As Denver reviews deportations, immigrant families are left in limbo./ Mientras Denver revisa las deportaciones, familias se quedan en el limbo.
By Elena Shore
Raul Cardenas just had his deportation case suspended, but he doesn’t feel like much has changed.
“I still cannot work. I still cannot support my family. I could still be deported,” said Cardenas. “I feel like I’m useless.”
Cardenas is among a group of people who have been identified as “low priority” for deportation in a pilot program launched in Denver that is being seen as a test of the Obama administration’s new deportation policy.
Under the six-week pilot program, prosecutors in Denver’s Office of the Chief Counsel will review the immigration court’s entire docket of cases, which number about 7,700. They are suspending immigration hearings for six weeks in order to conduct the review.
The pilot program, which is also being launched in Baltimore, is part of the administration’s new national focus on prioritizing the deportation of those with criminal records. In a memo in June, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano encouraged the use of “prosecutorial discretion” so that the deportation cases of those who are identified as “low-priority” could be screened out of the system and put on hold.
Laura Lichter, president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in Denver, called the review process a kind of “triage.”
“If properly implemented,” she said, “the current review will cut out those cases that common sense would agree are not high enforcement priorities, allowing ICE to focus on serious threats to our communities.”
But immigration advocates say that although it is a step in the right direction, the review doesn’t address the larger problem: Once their deportation cases are closed, undocumented immigrants will continue to live here without legal status.
“They’re putting the triage band-aid on our family, but they haven’t actually treated what the problem is,” says Judy Cárdenas, Raul’s wife.
Raul had worked for the same company
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