Late Thursday, the Associated Press reported that President Obama has directed Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, to review the agency’s deportation policy to operate “more humanely within the confines of the law.” Critics, including a spokesman from the office of House Speaker John Boehner, have indicated that until immigration laws are reformed through the democratic process, the executive branch has a duty to enforce the laws as they are written. Supporters of immigration reform were encouraged by the President’s showing of compassion toward the families of those facing deportation.
Today, the LA Times reported that the DHS is considering two changes to its enforcement and deportation system. First, it is considering scaling back deportations for those with only immigration violations and no criminal convictions. This would prioritize the deportation of people with criminal convictions ahead of those with immigration status violations. The second proposed change is aimed at scaling back the Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program, which has allowed Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to request that people without immigration status be held in jails until they can be picked up and transferred to ICE detention facilities. The proposed change in the S-Comm system would focus efforts on aliens with criminal convictions.