Sunday: Federal immigration reforms impact state little
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2012
12/22/12 at 4:01 PM
While nationally deportation orders are falling and backlogs in immigration courts are easing, the Oklahoma impact of U.S. policy reforms show modest to no change.
Last year, President Barack Obama issued a directive for the U.S. Homeland Security Department to prioritize its enforcement of immigration laws to those posing the most danger.
Although criticized as a political move during an election year, the administration stated this was to reduce the growing court backlog and focus efforts on violent criminals.
About 1.4 million immigrants were deported during Obama’s first 3½ years in office, more than under any other president.
The change in priorities created a shift among agents, who had considered illegal residency enough for arrest. A group of 10 agents sued for the right to ignore the directive.
In addition, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive implemented in August allows immigrants brought into the U.S. as children and have no legal residency documents apply for a two-year reprieve.
Eligibility mirrors aspects of the decade-old, pending congressional legislation known as the DREAM Act. This would give young, undocumented and law-abiding immigrants a chance to gain residency.
The policy directives are not a path to legal residency and leave the immigrant in legal limbo.
Statistics show the efforts are starting to improve overwhelmed courts but are increasing wait times for a case resolution.
The data comes from the University of Syracuse-based nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which uses the Freedom of Information Act to analyze cases.
Read more in Sunday's Tulsa World.