Immigration Reform Moving Forward

August 28, 2010

"It is this constant flow of immigrants that help make America what it is...To this day America reaps incredible economic rewards because we remain a magnet for the best and brightest for people around the world. In a increasingly interconnected world....Being an American is not a matter of blood or birth it is a matter of faith." President Barack Obama

While Republicans stand firm as roadblocks to comprehensive immigration reform, the Obama Administration is pushing some reform through policy. An August 20, 2010 memo from John T. Morton, Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, encourages the release of illegal immigrants detainees if the immigrants have a potential path to legal residency.  As many as 17,000 illegal immigrants could be affected by the new policy.  These include those who entered the U.S. illegally and those who overstayed their visas.

The move is the result of a huge backlog of cases that are clogging prisons and courtrooms and the shift to focus on deporting those who pose a risk to national security and are criminal aliens.

The action has been lauded by immigration advocates as it reflects humane immigration policies and will  help to keep families united.

Last week the DHS released its annual report, Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2009.  Despite anti-immigrants rants that federal government is not doing its job in removing criminal aliens (think Arizona lawsuit), the report shows that the removal of  illegal aliens has been increasing annually for seven years.

An earlier John Morton memo issued June 30, 2010, Civil Immigration Enforcement: Priorities for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens, states that ICE has the resources to remove 400,000 illegal aliens a year, which is less than 4% of the estimated illegal in the U.S. The memos states:
ICE must prioritize the use of its enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal resources to ensure that the removals the agency does conduct promote the agency's highest enforcement priorities, namely national security, public safety, and border security.
On September 15th there will be a gathering of people of faith and community leaders in Washington, DC who will tell the stories of the families torn apart by the 1,100 deportations taking place each day in the United States. The gathering called Relief, Reform and Respect, is expected to draw supporters of comprehensive immigration reform from across the nation.


Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON – The number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. has dropped for the first time in two decades — decreasing by 8 percent as the sour economy dried up jobs and increased enforcement made it harder to sneak across the border with Mexico, a new study finds.

Hope Yen, “Number of illegal immigrants in US now declining,” Associated Press, Wednesday, September 1, 2010 (emphasis added), available at

The lack of jobs applies with even greater force in the CNMI than the mainland U.S., since it is currently in a depression rather than a mere recession.

More and more skilled CNMI guest workers are pulling up stakes and returning home or onward to Canada.