Those foreign nationals who have been ordered deported may have a new ground to appeal their deportation orders, as a result of a recent court decision. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the deportations last week of seven illegal immigrants on the ground that they have no criminal record. The seven were ordered deported before the Obama administration’s announcement last June of a new policy that would target criminals for deportation and allow non-criminals to stay indefinitely.
After the administration’s announcement last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the government would review approximately 300,000 active and pending deportation cases for those people not detained by authorities. The administration denied assertions by critics that the new discretion policy and the plan to review cases is really a type of amnesty. Rather, the administration stated, the purpose of the plan is to make efficient use of the government’s limited resources. There are currently about 1.6 million deportation cases in the U.S. courts. Napolitano said this was an effort to ease the backlog of pending cases and focus the department’s limited resources on deporting criminals and others who pose a risk to the United States.
The Court decided to delay the seven deportation orders until the Obama administration re-evaluates their cases, and the Court gave the administration until March 19 to make a decision. This ruling could encourage a surge of deportation appeals by foreign nationals without a criminal record who seek a similar ruling. Immigration attorneys will likely push for such deportation appeals in all the other circuit courts as well.