President Barack Obama’s administration may be on the verge of limiting the deportation of illegal immigrants who have been arrested for “nonviolent” crimes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “in private meetings with police,” has “said he is considering limiting when immigration agents can contact local jails to ask them to hold” suspected illegal immigrants.
Under the Secure Communities Program, immigration officials can check fingerprints “against immigration databases to see if a suspect is in the country illegally or deportable because of a criminal conviction” and can issue detainers so that local sheriffs can hold suspected illegal immigrants for up to 48 hours. Between 2008 and April of this year, “more than 283,000 people were deported under the program,” according to federal officials.
Sheriffs, though, have been releasing suspected illegal immigrants while some states like California have completely opted out of the Secure Communities program.
USA Today recently reported that counties in Colorado, “30 counties in Oregon and California’s Sonoma County have also changed their respective policies regarding ICE detainers, even though ICE officials have ‘said releasing suspected illegal immigrants back into the community poses dangers, both to the public and to the agents.'”
Johnson, according to The Hill, will also meet with House Democrats on June 10 at a “meet and greet” breakfast, which “is being framed as an opportunity for members to sit down for the first time with the DHS chief to discuss a range of issues ‘in a private setting.'” The panel includes Democrats from border states who have been vocal about wanting the Obama administration to, among other things, expand the deferred action program.
As Breitbart News reported, Johnson told PBS’s Judy Woodruff last week that the Obama administration was “evaluating our current enforcement priorities” and “potential revisions to our policies.” He also said the Obama administration was looking to expand the Deferred Action program and is taking a “fresh look” at the “very controversial” Secure Communities program.
Though Republicans have warned that unilaterally changing immigration laws would undermine chances of broader amnesty legislation, Senate Democrats suggested last week that the Obama administration may act alone in six weeks if Congress does not pass an immigration reform bill.