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New U.S. immigration reviews may mean fewer illegal immigrants deported

President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One while departing the White House on August 18, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One while departing the White House on August 18, 2011 in Washington, DC.

The Obama administration announced yesterday that they will begin reviewing the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of “low priority” illegal immigrants. That means that undocumented immigrants without criminal records may be allowed to stay in the country. Immigrant rights activists welcomed the news saying it’s a step in the right direction. But given the increasingly harsh deportation practices of the administration, they remain skeptical about the administration’s approach. Critics say President Obama is pandering to Hispanic voters in the hopes that they’ll turn out for him in November like they did in 2008. They also insist that easing immigration policy will make America less safe. The change comes right in the middle of a contentious debate about another administration policy, Secure Communities. This program mandates that anyone booked into state and local jails have their fingerprints sent to the Department of Homeland Security to check for immigration status. The administration says the vast majority of people deported under the program are convicted criminals or people violating a deportation order. But a growing number of critics argue that innocent people are getting caught in the net. So what spurred this shift? Does the administration believe it’s the right thing to do or do they have ulterior motives? Will easing back harsh immigration policy make us less safe? Will Secure Communities ensure the worst of the worst get sent back to their home countries? Or is it a draconian law that will rip families apart and lead to distrust between illegal immigrants and authorities?

The Obama administration announced yesterday that they will begin reviewing the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of “low priority” illegal immigrants. That means that undocumented immigrants without criminal records may be allowed to stay in the country. Immigrant rights activists welcomed the news saying it’s a step in the right direction. But given the increasingly harsh deportation practices of the administration, they remain skeptical about the administration’s approach. Critics say President Obama is pandering to Hispanic voters in the hopes that they’ll turn out for him in November like they did in 2008. They also insist that easing immigration policy will make America less safe. The change comes right in the middle of a contentious debate about another administration policy, Secure Communities. This program mandates that anyone booked into state and local jails have their fingerprints sent to the Department of Homeland Security to check for immigration status. The administration says the vast majority of people deported under the program are convicted criminals or people violating a deportation order. But a growing number of critics argue that innocent people are getting caught in the net. So what spurred this shift? Does the administration believe it’s the right thing to do or do they have ulterior motives? Will easing back harsh immigration policy make us less safe? Will Secure Communities ensure the worst of the worst get sent back to their home countries? Or is it a draconian law that will rip families apart and lead to distrust between illegal immigrants and authorities?

Guests:

Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at Center for American Progress

Chris Newman, Legal Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network

Steven Camarota, Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies

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