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White House policy changes lead to increased deportation risk

Early in the current presidential administration, the White House issued executive orders to expand the types of immigrants prioritized for deportation. The Trump White House has also scaled back on the use of "administrative closure," which was a way of putting immigration cases on pause in order to focus on those immigrants prioritized for deportation -- such as immigrants who had been accused of violent crimes.

This has resulted in nonviolent immigrants needing to go through long court proceedings that may eventually lead to deportation. Under the last presidential administration, administrative closure allowed most of these nonviolent immigrants to remain in the United States, even though they were never granted full legal status. These nonviolent immigrants' cases could be reopened at any time, but in the interim, they could stay in the United States, and in some cases, legally work.

In 2011, when the Obama administration issued a directive to prioritize immigration matters that involved criminals, the use of administrative closures ramped up. In the final year of Obama's presidency, over 56,000 nonviolent immigrant cases were placed under this status. However, these closures declined by 64 percent in the first years of the current Trump administration.

Changes in the way the executive branch polices and enforces U.S. immigration law are bound to happen with every change of president. It's vital for anyone seeking U.S. residency or citizenship to pay close attention to these changes in order to make sure their approach to gaining residency reflects the current immigration policies the government is enforcing. In the end, no matter what the political or legal climate happens to be, immigrants will always have legal strategies they can employ to try to achieve their residency goals.

Source: Reuters, "Exclusive: Under Trump, prosecutors fight reprieves for people facing deportation," Reade Levinson, March 29, 2018

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