A large number of illegal immigrants removed from the United States annually could soon be immune from deportation, according to a report from the Associated Press.
On President Barack Obama’s orders, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is reviewing the administration’s deportation policies. The AP report reveals that Johnson is considering reducing the number of deportations of illegal immigrants without serious criminal records.
“The potential change could shield tens of thousands of immigrants now removed each year solely because of repeated immigration violations, such as re-entering the country after being deported,” the AP reports. “The change would fall short of deportation curbs demanded by activists frustrated by congressional inaction on immigration legislation.”
Former acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Sandweg and an immigration advocate who has had confidential conversations with administration officials about DHS’ plans confirmed the possible action to the AP.
Such an action would be sure to anger immigration hawks who argue that Obama administration policy has already subverted immigration law.
“So, under this directive, a previously deported illegal immigrant/visa overstay with a ‘minor’ criminal record could hop a plane to the U.S., work illegally and receive benefits, and ICE would be effectively prohibited from removing him,” an aide to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions noted in an email.
Still, DHS told the AP that it is too early to report about specific policies to come out of the review.
“Any report of specific considerations at this time would be premature,” Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, told the AP Monday.
Stevens added that Johnson has sought input from a swath of people, including lawmakers, people at DHS and other stakeholders, undergoing a “a very rigorous and inclusive process to best inform the review.”