The Immigration Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) released its year end removal numbers. There were 409,849 people who were deported. According to the ICE press release, “approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors – almost double the removal of criminals in FY 2008.val numbers for fiscal year 2012.” A lot of Republicans have criticized President Obama’s program for providing deferred action for DREAMers and other efforts at exercising prosecutorial discretion in enforcing immigration laws because they view him as not enforcing the immigration laws. However, what President Obama is doing is prioritizing the limited resources of the ICE. As a result of this prioritization, the Obama administration has deported double the number of non-citizens with criminal history from 2008. Based upon these statistics, it would seem that President Obama’s plan is working. By exercising prosecutorial discretion in non-priority cases, the ICE is able to focus on priority cases involving immigrants with criminal history.
In February, I was retained to do an individual hearing for a lawful permanent resident with a criminal history who was in removal proceedings and seeking a waiver of inadmissibility pursuant to INA § 212(h). Since February, I have been preparing his deportation defense for immigration court in New York City. Today, was his final hearing. Instead of taking testimony, the proceedings were terminated by the Immigration Judge. On March 30, 2012, I posted a blog about the Supreme Court’s decision in Vartelas v. Holder. In Vartelas, the Supreme Court held that residents who were convicted before April 24, 1996 and are placed in removal proceedings after travelling abroad, may seek termination of their removal proceedings. Because I was aware of the Supreme Court’s decision in Vartelas, I knew to make a motion to terminate my client’s proceedings. My client’s case demonstrates how important it is that immigration attorneys keep up on changes in the law. Because I keep myself updated on changes in immigration law and new immigration decisions, I was able to have my client’s removal proceedings terminated without him having to testify.