Depart of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared before the House Judiciary committee to defend that President’s decision to stop deportations of young immigrants. But Rep. Steve King (R.-IA) threatened to file a lawsuit and have the action overturned in court.
The new move to delay deportation of young people who were brought into the county by their parents garnered much praise from the Latino community and immigration lawyers alike. Under the new rules these immigrants will be given two years to obtain work or student visas without fear of deportation as long as they have no criminal record.
Napolitano said to the Committee, “Our nation’s laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner. But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.”
However the law has elicited the ire of many conservative lawmakers on the ground they believe the move is unconstitutional and that it is “backdoor amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.
But Napolitano said that the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to use discretion when deciding which immigrants they deport.
“Indeed as the Supreme Court noted in its recent decision on the Arizona immigration law, ‘a special feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.’”
The decision to use prosecutorial discretion for young immigrants came after Congress failed to the pass DREAM Act in 2010. Even with the help of immigration lawyers, many of these young people, who serve in the military or are contributing members of American society, could be denied a legal presence in the only country they know.
The Depart of Homeland Security is expected to release details about the program and which documents immigrants will need to prove their residency in August. Once they are made available, young people can then retain an immigration attorney to help them get the appropriate visa.