Deportations are actually declining during the Obama administration after an initial surge when the President first took office. The initial rise in deportations was spurred by the administration’s effort to increase enforcement to satisfy Republican demands that the nation’s immigration laws be strictly enforced and that violators be deported. As President Obama’s frustration level with a Congress that would not pass comprehensive immigration reform rose, he instituted several policies that changed the manner in which the Department of Homeland Security treated the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
First, President Obama initiated a “Prosecutorial Discretion” policy. Under this policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys evaluated each case in removal proceedings where immigrants faced deportation and selected some for administrative closure. This means that the person facing deportation was permitted to remain in the United States and their removal proceedings were closed.
Second, President Obama created regulations that, in essence, implemented the DREAM Act for those who arrived before the age of 16. This was in response to Congress not successfully passing the DREAM Act. Now, the new regulation entitled, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) benefits millions of young, undocumented immigrants who are pursuing the American Dream through education.
Third, President Obama issued an enforcement policy that undocumented parents of young children will not be detained or deported in most cases. This is an effort by the administration to keep families from being torn apart where United States citizen children lose one or both of their parents to deportation.
Still, companies like GEO, a Boca Raton based detention center conglomerate, will most likely benefit if comprehensive immigration reform is finally passed because it will, no doubt, include tougher enforcement measures along with a path to citizenship. Companies like GEO actually profit from the detention of undocumented immigrants.
Stay tuned for more debate on the immigration reform front in 2014.