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Is the Priority Enforcement Program the solution to the illegal immigration problem?

U.S. Immigration is a hot-button issue with strong and opposing positions on both sides. From those U.S. residents who contend that the U.S. must clamp down on all immigration to those who argue for more lenient and humane policies, the issues related to immigration are complex and polarizing and unfortunately there is no right or simple solution.

While the Obama administration's attempts to pass legislation that would have allowed many illegal immigrants the ability to legally stay in the U.S failed, the recently enacted Priority Enforcement Program should provide the majority of illegal immigrants a level of protection against deportation. Many illegal immigrants have lived, worked and raised their children in the U.S. for years. It is these individuals who immigration advocates contend must be protected.

In past years, the Federal government's Secure Communities program required that local police departments notify federal immigration agents when an illegal immigrant was arrested and that they detain the man or woman until agents arrived. The program, however, was later ruled to be unconstitutional and shut down. Today, roughly 300 U.S. cities have also "passed laws limiting cooperation with federal authorities," with regard to the notification and detention of illegal immigrants.

As of July 1, 2015, a replacement to the Secure Communities program took effect. Under the Obama administration's Priority Enforcement Program, only those illegal immigrants who pose threats to national security, are known gang members, commit felonies or have recently been caught illegally crossing the border are subject to deportation. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security estimate that approximately 13 percent or 1.4 million illegal immigrants are included among those now being targeting for deportation.

Source: The New York Times, "Most Undocumented Immigrants Will Stay Under Obama’s New Policies, Report Says," Julia Preston, July 23, 2015

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