Deportation of 300,000 undocumented immigrants is suspended

The U.S. government today announced that it will cancel the deportation of 300,000 undocumented immigrants currently in removal proceedings while it evaluates each case. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the policy change in a letter to U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), emphasizing that it will allow more resources to be devoted to the removal of convicted criminals and those who may pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Undocumented individuals who have not committed crimes, who have significant family ties and have lived in the United States since childhood, and the elderly may receive a letter informing them that their case is temporarily suspended, but could be reopened at a later date. Although their indefinite stay in the country will not give undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency, some of these individuals may be eligible to apply for a work permit while their cases are being reviewed.

As part of this new policy, a team of officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, DHS and other government agencies that process immigration cases will work together to identify cases that are not high priority and issue guidance to be followed to prevent these cases from entering the system.

This policy change is very good news for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who are not criminals, who have families and have lived in this country all their lives. The suspension of these deportations buys them a little time until there is finally comprehensive immigration reform that can protect them.