The volume of deportation cases in immigration courts has been growing each year, causing the courts to be overwhelmed with backlogs that officials say are impossible to get through.
In response, the secretary of Homeland Security announced that almost 300,000 deportation cases will be reviewed under "prosecutorial discretion," and will potentially be dismissed or put on hold for an undetermined amount of time.
Prosecutors will look through their caseloads and separate cases against suspected illegal immigrants who have not committed a crime from cases against those with criminal records. The cases against immigrants with criminal records will be moved forward, while the cases against non-criminals will be dropped.
The case reviews have been underway for quite a while in some areas of the United States, including Denver and Baltimore. In other areas, the reviews are just starting or have not yet begun.
It is unknown at this point as to how many deportation cases are going to be dismissed or put on hold. Some cases involving immigrants without criminal records will still be heard. This includes individuals who have a strong case, but have been waiting to go before a judge because of the backlogs.
Immigrants who have their cases dismissed will still be in limbo, they will not be facing deportation, but they will also still be in the country illegally. This is why some people will choose to go before a judge anyway if they feel they have a good case. Officials said hearings will not be denied to those who request them.
To figure out the best option for yourself or someone you love, talk to an experienced immigration lawyer in your area for advice.
Source: Latino Fox News, "ICE Reviews Deportations Following Backlog," Jan. 16, 2012