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Are major policy changes coming to U.S. deportation priorities?

As we've discussed on our blog before, President Barack Obama is currently facing intense criticism from multiple immigrant advocacy groups over the nearly two million deportations that have taken place during his time in office.

While the Obama Administration has taken steps to curtail the number of possible deportations thanks to initiatives like the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, it has also indicated that its options are limited absent definitive action by Congress concerning immigration reform.

Interestingly enough, however, recently released reports indicate that the Obama Administration is currently weighing an action that, while somewhat limited in scope, could still make a considerable difference to the immigrant population here in the U.S.

According to sources on Capitol Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is currently considering a fundamental shift in deportations following a review ordered by President Obama.

Specifically, it is being said that Johnson is weighing whether to remove the following groups of immigrants from the priority list of deportations: people who fail to comply with deportation orders and people with repeat immigration violations (i.e., reentering the country illegally after deportation).

Such a move would leave the following groups of immigrants on the priority list of deportations: people with criminal convictions, and people who pose a risk to public safety and/or national security.

While news of this possible action was welcomed by the aforementioned immigrant advocacy groups, several have indicated that this is only one aspect of the widespread changes that need to be introduced.

For example, they want to see the DACA program -- which grants young people who came to the United States as children a sort of temporary status, including access to a work permit -- expanded to include parents of these children.

Thus far, DHS has revealed very little about changing the deportation priority list.

"Any report of specific considerations at this time would be premature," said an agency spokesperson. "[Johnson] has undergone a very rigorous and inclusive process to best inform the review."

Stay tuned for updates on this important story and other important immigration-related stories here in New York ...

Source: ABC News, "US weighs curbing deportations," Erica Werner, April 21, 2014

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