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New Obama Immigration Policy Goes Easier on Parents

On August 23, 2013, The Obama Administration released a memo giving greater leniency on parents who are in ICE detention. Specifically, the memo from John Sandweg, Acting Director of ICE, states that the goal of the guidance is to ensure that immigration laws are enforced fairly with respect to family laws.

The memo further states that ICE should ensure that particular attention be paid to enforcement activities involving:

  1. parents or legal guardians who are primary caretakers’
  2. parents or legal guardians who have a direct interest in family court or child welfare proceedings
  3. parents or legal guardians whose minor children are physically present in the United States and are United States Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents

The memo states that ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations will designate a specially trained coordinator in each Field Office to serve as a Point of Contact (POC) for Parental Rights. The memo also urges each Field Office Director (FOD) to review previous memos on prosecutorial discretion and to take into consideration, specifically, if a person in ICE detention is the primary care giver of a minor or if the person is the guardian of a United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) minor. If this is the case, the FOD should use prosecutorial discretion in detaining the person in ICE custody early in the case.

ICE must also assist in helping a person who has been ordered removed or deported, if asked, to arrange for guardianship of the persons minor children in they are to stay in the the United States. If the children are to be returned to the parents country of origin, then ICE must help them obtain travel documents to accompany their parent to the country of removal. ICE should also provide sufficient notice of a removal itinerary, when safety is not an issue, to the person being removed or their attorney so that travel arrangements may be made for the minor children.

ICE must also ensure that while the person is detained they attend any and all family court hearings. The memo states that in person appearances are the best, if practicable, but if not, then teleconferencing is the next best option if the family court allows it.

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