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US reviews deportation cases

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

US reviews deportation cases

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WASHINGTON – The United States Department of Homeland Security was expected to begin a review of all deportation cases before the immigration courts and start a nationwide training programme for enforcement agents and prosecuting lawyers.Officials said the goal is to speed up deportations of convicted Caribbean and other criminals and halt those of many illegal immigrants with no criminal record. 
The accelerated triage of the court docket – about 300 000 cases – is intended to allow severely overburdened immigration judges to focus on deporting foreigners who committed serious crimes or pose national security risks, Homeland Security officials said. The review and the training, which will instruct immigration agents on closing deportations that fall outside the department’s priorities, are designed to bring sweeping changes to the immigration courts and to enforcement strategies of field agents nationwide. Homeland Security officials were expected to issue guidelines to begin the training programme and the first stages of the court caseload review. Both are efforts to put into practice a policy senior officials had announced in June, to encourage immigration agents to use prosecutorial discretion when deciding whether to pursue a deportation. The policy, described in a June 17 memorandum by John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), suggested that the Obama administration would scale back deportations of illegal Caribbean and other immigrants who were young students, military service members, elderly people or close family of American citizens, among others.While the announcement raised excited expectations in some immigrant communities, until now the policy has been applied spottily, deepening disillusionment with President Obama in those communities, immigration advocates and lawyers say. Obama administration officials said they have removed high numbers of illegal immigrants, nearly 400,000 in each of the last three years.(CMC)