(ESPAÑOL) Illegal Immigrants previously granted a reprieve under Obama’s administration are back in the sights. The Trump administration has moved to reopen the cases of hundreds of illegal immigrants who had been given a reprieve from deportation, according to government data and court documents reviewed by Reuters and interviews with immigration lawyers.
Trump signaled in January that he planned to dramatically widen the net of illegal immigrants targeted for deportation, but his administration has not publicized its efforts to reopen immigration cases.
While cases were reopened during the Obama administration as well, it was generally only if an immigrant had committed a serious crime, immigration attorneys say. The Trump administration has sharply increased the number of cases it is asking the courts to reopen, and its targets appear to include at least some people who have not committed any crimes since their cases were closed.
Between March 1 and May 31, prosecutors moved to reopen 1,329 cases, according to a Reuters’ analysis of data from the Executive Office of Immigration Review, or EOIR. The Obama administration filed 430 similar motions during the same period in 2016.
Jennifer Elzea, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the agency was now filing motions with immigration courts to reopen cases where illegal immigrants had “since been arrested for or convicted of a crime.”
It is not possible to tell from the EOIR data how many of the cases the Trump administration is seeking to reopen involve immigrants who committed crimes after their cases were closed.
“This is a sea change, said attorney David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Before, if someone did something after the case was closed out that showed that person was a threat, then it would be reopened. Now they are opening cases just because they want to deport people.”
Elzea said the agency reviews cases, “to see if the basis for prosecutorial discretion is still appropriate.”