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Immigration Cases are Being Reopened. Here is What to Do.

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

The Trump administration’s creativity in making immigrant lives difficult has no limits. It is really the only thing they are efficient at.

In another effort to overturn Obama-era policies, which shielded non-felon immigrants from deportation, immigration authorities are choosing to reopen previously deferred deportation cases.

Reuters and other media outlets report that hundreds of deportation cases are being reopened and reconsidered, with more strict prosecutorial practices applied. The news agency states that between March 1 and May 31, federal prosecutors reopened more than 1,300 immigration cases. That’s three times more cases than Obama’s administration reopened (430) in a comparable time, according to Reuters’ analysis of Executive Office of Immigration Review data. Another difference is that in the past administration, cases were reopened when the individuals had committed a serious crime. Now they are just being reopened.

This misguided ICE policy will lead to even more backlogged Immigration Courts and belies the President’s stated aim of targeting those with criminal convictions.-Judy Flannagan

Since 2011, Obama’s prosecutorial standards gave deportation priority to felons and gave a chance to stay in this country to people who posed no risk to public safety and had longer ties with the community – among them people with misdemeanors as simple as traffic violations.

Additionally, now the number of deportation cases closed has plummeted from 25,234 cases in 2016 to 1,742 in 2017. Read this article and scroll down to see two interesting graphs.

Why did Obama do this? The social cost of deportation is staggering, leaving children (frequently American citizens) without their main breadwinner. But we know the Trump administration does not care about the fallout of these tragedies and rather seems to seek the fraying of immigrant families’ social fabric.

“It is outrageous that the Trump Administration is going after immigrants with previously closed removal proceedings where there has been no subsequent criminal arrest or conviction. An Immigration Judge previously determined that these immigrants are not priorities for removal under existing law. This misguided ICE policy will lead to even more backlogged Immigration Courts and belies the President’s stated aim of targeting those with criminal convictions. Hopefully, the judges will stand firm on their prior decisions and refuse to reopen these cases”, said Judy Flanagan, Phoenix Area immigration attorney.

For that reason, immigrants with a previous deportation case that was deferred or closed need to be alert to respond to the situation.

Experts recommend these actions:

1. All immigrants need to have their address updated with immigration authorities in case a communication is sent to them. It is required anyway but is especially important to those who may have cases deferred or closed, given the new developments.

2. Be prepared to engage your immigration attorney to appear in court.

3. If your case is reopened, gather all the evidence and talk to your lawyer to prepare to defend your case.

4. Do not miss court appearances. Failure to appear in court will give the prosecutors the excuse to solicit your deportation in absentia.

Knowledge is power. Be prepared if you need to confront the immigration system again.