IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT OVERVIEW
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) receives an annual appropriation from Congress sufficient to remove a limited number of the more than 10 million individuals estimated to unlawfully be in the United States. As a result, ICE must prioritize which individuals to pursue.
Focusing on Higher Priority Individuals
ICE has adopted common sense policies that ensure our immigration laws are enforced in a way that best enhances public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system.
As part of this approach, ICE has set clear priorities that call for the agency’s enforcement resources to be focused on the identification and removal of those individuals who have:
- Broken criminal laws,
- Recently crossed our border,
- Repeatedly violated immigration law or
- Are fugitives from immigration court.
The setting of these priorities ensures that resources are allocated where they are needed most.
During the past three years, ICE’s approach to immigration enforcement has resulted in unprecedented results. In fiscal year 2011, ICE removed more than 396,000 individuals. Ninety percent of all these removals fell into one of ICE’s enforcement priority categories.
The Department has improved and expanded the E-Verify system, adding new features to monitor for fraud and redesigning the system to ensure compliance and ease of use. The Department also announced the ‘I E-Verify’ initiative to let consumers know which businesses are working to maintain legal workforces by using E-Verify. In FY 2012 to date, over 15 million queries have been run through the E-Verify system.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also continued major reforms of the immigration detention system—prioritizing health, safety and uniformity among detention facilities while ensuring security, efficiency and fiscal responsibility.
DEFERED ACTION OVERVIEW
Immigration Relief for Deserving Young People
On June 15th, Secretary Napolitano announced that young people who were brought to the United States as children and who meet several key criteria will be considered for temporary relief from removal from the country or from being placed in removal proceedings.
This relief will be granted only after an individualized review by DHS personnel. It will last two years and may be renewed, and individuals granted deferred action will also be eligible to request employment authorization.
This action is the next logical step in DHS’s extensive efforts to ensure that immigration enforcement resources are focused on our mission to protect public safety and ensure border security. These efforts date to the development and release of ICE’s June 2010 memorandum on immigration enforcement priorities, and Director Morton’s two prosecutorial discretion memoranda issued in June 2011.
As President Obama noted in remarks on this policy, many young people who will benefit from this policy study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, and pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way – except on paper. Some came to our country – sometimes even as infants – and yet they live under the threat of removal to a country they may know little about, with a language they may not even speak.
In order to be considered for deferred action under this policy, individuals must:
- Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen
- Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years and have been physically present in the United States on the date of our announcement on June 15
- Either be currently in school, a graduate of a U.S. high school or a recipient of a Certificate of High School Equivalency, or an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States
- Not have been convicted of either a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
- Be younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012
Individuals must also complete a biographic and biometric background check and not currently in removal proceedings or subject to a final order, must be 15 years or older to be considered for deferred action. Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be considered for deferred action under this initiative. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States or cannot prove that they have continuously resided within the United States for at least five years.
Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful permanent resident status or any legal status in the United States. It confers no legal immigration status, nor a pathway to citizenship. Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these benefits. It remains for the executive branch, however, to set forth policy for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion within the framework of the existing law.
ICE and USCIS will deploy their considerable fraud prevention resources to guard against fraud in this process – and to take strong action against any individuals who engage in fraud. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations directorate and USCIS’s Fraud Detection and National Security directorate will be actively engaged whenever fraud is suspected as part of an individual request to ICE or USCIS for deferred action or employment authorization.
An individual who knowingly makes a misrepresentation to ICE or USCIS, or knowingly fails to disclose facts to ICE or USCIS, in an effort to be considered for deferred action or work authorization in this new process will be treated as an immigration enforcement priority to the fullest extent permitted by law, subjecting the individual to criminal prosecution and removal from the United States.