The Department of Homeland Security is systematically reviewing thousands of pending immigration cases and moving to dismiss those filed against suspected illegal immigrants who have no serious criminal records, reports the Houston Chronicle. Culling the immigration court dockets of noncriminals started in earnest in Houston about a month ago and has stunned local attorneys, who have come to court anticipating clients’ deportations only to learn that the government was dismissing their cases.
Richard Rocha, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, said the review is part of the agency’s broader, nationwide strategy to prioritize the deportations of illegal immigrants who pose a threat to national security and public safety. Critics assailed the plan as a sign the Obama administration is trying to create a kind of backdoor “amnesty” program. Opponents of illegal immigration were critical. “They’ve made clear that they have no interest in enforcing immigration laws against people who are not convicted criminals,” said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for strict controls.