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Obama Administration’s Pledge to Immigrant Communities Hindered by Lack of Leadership at Department of Homeland Security


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York City  (Tuesday, March 27, 2012)

Obama Administration’s Pledge to Immigrant Communities Hindered by Lack of Leadership at Department of Homeland Security

Few See Relief from Deportation

New statistics released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) show that immigration officials have not evenly applied new enforcement guidelines in deportation cases, seriously jeopardizing the Obama Administration’s plan to suspend deportation proceedings for immigrants with strong ties to the communities.

During a national telephonic news conference today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and its partners in the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) stated that there have been numerous cases where the Administration’s new prosecutorial discretion policy has not been applied since the Obama Administration announced its plan last summer.
The Administration pledged last August that it would review deportation cases currently pending in immigration court and close those cases it deemed “low priority.” But this month in testimony before Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton said that as of March 5th, ICE had reviewed 165,000 cases, and that only 1,583 cases had been closed.

“Given the inexplicably low numbers of cases being closed by the Administration,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, “and the cases we’re hearing about that clearly meet the criteria for discretion but are not in fact being closed, we are calling on Secretary Napolitano to demonstrate real leadership to ensure that the new guidelines are implemented consistently and fairly and bring justice to individuals caught up in a seriously broken immigration system.”

Sara Martinez, who lives in New York, spoke of how DHS has refused to exercise discretion in her case. Sara Martinez was picked up by Border Patrol agents on a Greyhound bus in Rochester NY last year. She is the sole caretaker of her 7-year-old U.S. citizen daughter. Although she clearly falls within the new guidelines, Sara faces deportation back to her native Ecuador despite having no criminal record and strong ties to the U.S.

“Since I came to the U.S., I have paid my taxes on time, I’ve learned how to speak English and I have been involved in my community,” said Sara Martinez. “I have never committed a crime either in Ecuador or in the United States. I just want to give my daughter a better life than I have had.”

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About the New York Immigration Coalition: The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fosters their leadership, and provides a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.





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