Menendez urges Obama to extend immigration program

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    Related Story: ICE reports precipitous drop in deportation proceedings

    Sen. Robert Menendez (D, NJ) is urging President Obama to extend the prosecutorial discretion pilot programs that helped more than 1,600 undocumented immigrants from being separated from their homes and families.

    On Jan. 19, preliminary data was released about the six-week long program started by Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Baltimore and Denver.

    This is the first phase of the Obama administration’s effort to review the 300,000 cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to close certain immigration deportation cases.

    In Baltimore, ICE attorneys reviewed 3,759 cases and recommended that 366, or nearly 10 percent, of those cases be closed. In Denver, ICE reviewed 7,923 cases and recommended that 1,301, or 16 percent be closed, said a press release by the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.

    Menendez, a prominent immigration reform supporter, is now calling on the Obama administration to expand these pilot programs nationwide and provide work permits to those people whose cases have been closed.

    “These programs ended a significant number of these deportations in clear cases and made it possible for thousands of immigrants with strong ties to the U.S. to stay and pursue the American dream,” said Menendez in a statement posted on his call-to-action website,

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a supporter of the federal employer verification program called E-Verify, criticized the pilot program in a press release.

    “If these results play out nationwide, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants will benefit and tens of thousands of Americans will find it harder to get jobs,” Smith said.  “How can the Obama administration justify granting work authorization to illegal immigrants when so many American citizens don’t have jobs?”

    Until the Obama administration makes a decision regarding the extension of the pilot programs, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and ICE will keep on reviewing the data and implementation outcomes.

    They will then determine “on an expedited basis,” the best way to extend this nationwide, said an announcement by ICE entitled, Next Steps in the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion Memorandum.


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