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The Bellingham Herald
November 23, 2011

Hoping for reprieve: Immigrants await new policy
By John Fritze

Obama administration officials note that prosecutors have always had a degree of discretion over how to prioritize their cases. And they say it makes sense to target dangerous individuals first. Baltimore and Denver were chosen in part for their size: Caseloads are significant, but not unmanageable. Baltimore also sees a wide spectrum of immigration cases. Baltimore saw 4,330 immigration court proceedings last year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and completed 3,613. With more than 300,000 immigration cases pending nationwide, the new program could halt removal proceedings for thousands of immigrants. Fewer than 20 percent of the cases involve defendants with criminal records other than their immigration violations, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group based at Syracuse University. Despite broad consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken, Congress has been unable to agree on changes. A once-bipartisan proposal to bestow legal status on some immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors and who attend college or serve in the military for two years died in the Senate last year. Many Republicans viewed the effort as a political ploy by Democrats, including Obama, to court Latino voters.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2011
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