Client's Deportation Proceedings Terminated Under Prosecutorial Discretion

            It always feels great to see the law implemented the way it should be. At the beginning of the summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton issued a memo to all related government officials about expanding the use of prosecutorial discretion.
            Prosecutorial discretion is defined as “the basic authority of an agency charged with enforcing a law to decide what degree to enforce the law against a particular individual”. (ICE Memo on Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens, June 17, 2011). Basically, the government is given more freedom to decide whether immigration cases should be pursued or not on a case by case basis.
This change in focus stems from the Department of Homeland Security’s overwhelming case load; they are trying to re-prioritize Immigration cases, focusing the government’s resources on high priority cases. The government therefore takes into consideration whether someone is a senior citizen or a minor, people with health conditions, people who have been present in the United States since childhood, among a plethora of other variables. Cases that are considered high priority include: individuals who pose a clear risk to national security; serious felons or repeat offenders, known gang members who pose a threat to public safety, and individuals with an egregious record of violations, specifically immigration fraud.
            What does that mean for us? Well, just last week, a client of ours was given back his green card as a result of this new government focus. The client was a lawful permanent resident; he left the country for about two and a half years, only to return to the US to have his green card seized. He was immediately put in deportation proceedings. Upon our request to terminate the proceedings based on prosecutorial discretion, the government agreed. A week later, the judge ordered the case terminated, and our client received his green card. The government decided to conserve its resources and put its focus on high priority cases, rather than pursue our client’s case. Happy clients, happy attorneys.

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