The Department of Homeland Securitys new deportation policy is being tested in Denver.
For the next six weeks, prosecutors will review all 7,800 cases in Denver Immigration Court, to determine which immigrants pose a threat or security risk and which ones do not.
Its all about resources, said Julie Gonzales, director of organizing for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. Do we blanket deport them all, or focus on those who are a threat to the community?
The new policy, announced last month, will allow illegal immigrants facing deportation who have no criminal record and who meet certain criteria to be classified as low priority for immigration enforcement and have their cases closed.
Its a small first step, said Judy Cardenas, whose husband, Raul, is facing deportation.
Raul Cardenas told 7NEWS that he came to the U.S. 11 years ago to find work.
He said he worked for eight years straight, until immigration authorities discovered that the Social Security number he was using didnt belong to him.
Raul Cardenas admitted he got the number on the street simply to get a job and said he always paid his taxes.
I turned myself in, in order to things right, he said. Since then, I havent been able to work.
Judy Cardenas said even if prosecutors decide not to proceed with the case against her husband, the couple is still in limbo.
Its almost as if he is wearing an ankle bracelet, she said. He has to stay inside the country. He cannot leave. And yet, hes not allowed to do anything. He cant get a work permit, but hes here and he has a family.
Gonzales said prosecutors will look at positive and negative factors in deciding which cases to pursue.
Among the positives:
Children in U.S.
Time Spent Here
Among the negatives:
Immigration attorney Hans Meyer told 7NEWS that after the pilot project is finished, the country can begin to figure out what to do with the immigrants who are not deported.
Its a question were going to be dealing with on the state, local and national level for the next couple of years, Meyer said. Hopefully that review process is a step in moving toward that larger discourse.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said the agency would focus efforts on deporting criminals, better use resources and alleviate the backlog of cases, something celebrated by immigration judges and attorneys but criticized by Republicans who called it "backdoor amnesty."
A union representing ICE agents blasted the change, saying it was aimed at "stopping the enforcement" of U.S. immigration laws, was done without input from agents and would be a "law enforcement nightmare."
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