The Obama administration announced last week that it…

The Obama administration announced last week that it was going to review all 300,000+ deportation court cases and consider dismissing some of them. The stated criteria for dismissal/closure was whether the personal has not been convicted of a serious crime and has not been a habitual immigration violator. This latest statement from the administration follows earlier pronouncements (known as the Morton memos) from ICE and DHS that they would be exercising prosecutorial discretion and terminating many deportation cases.

Since the Morton memos have NOT been followed, at least from my observations in immigration court, I was very skeptical of the latest announcements last week, which led many to suggest it was a new amnesty. While there was no statement about amnesty, the administration did say that work permits would be issued to people whose cases were closed in this process.

I suspected that it would be “business as usual”, based on my observations following the Morton memos. Following those memos, the local prosecutors in Houston exhibited no intention of dismissing any cases (except for some during the first few weeks). The problem is that the administration in Washington makes these bold pronouncements, yet nothing trickles down to their people in the field. So, the prosecutors and the judge act as though the memos and pronouncements have no effect on them.

Today, I had a deportation case in immigration court and figured I’d test the waters. My client is a young woman from China, and had no problems with the law and is a full-time college student. I asked the prosecutor , Dean Emmons, and the Judge Lisa Luis if they would agree to close the case pursuant to the directives from Washington, DC. The judge said,”I’m not bound by the Morton memos,” and that this was “not the right forum. The prosecutor said that he was not willing to close the case.

So, notwithstanding directives from Washington about the new amnesty, nothing has trickled down to the field. What the government should have done was to order an immediate halt to all deportation cases until they can review the files as was promised. Going forward with such cases, in light of directives from Washington saying to the contrary, is just plain wrong.

In conclusion, there is no new amnesty and there is no stoppage of deportation cases, at least in Houston and Miami where I handle most of my cases.

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Bruce Coane is a leading lawyer with 30 years of experience in the field of immigration law and employment law. He may be reached via email at houstonlaw@aol.com or his website at Coane and Associates.

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