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Is the new federal immigration policy creating confusion?

This blog reported in August that the White House shifted its policies on deportation and removal hearings pending in immigration courts. The policy shift has immigration officials reviewing some 300,000 pending cases on a case-by-case basis to determine which cases should benefit under prosecutorial discretion.

On August 18, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a statement regarding the shift in policy that included a statement that some immigrants in closed cases would receive a chance to apply for a work permit. Some immigration advocates are now voicing their concerns that the statement has caused some confusion. The shift in immigration policy applies to immigrants with deportation cases pending. It does not provide a new pathway for undocumented immigrants to apply for a work permit in a general sense.

An advocate with the YWCA Multicultural Center, Chris Gentges, says the shift in policy "will only impact people who are currently in detention. We don't know the impact of unauthorized people in the community. There are no guidelines at this time." Maria Reyes, who directs the Multicultural Center, says "There is no immigration benefit being derived as a result of this." She is worried some undocumented immigrants who are not facing immigration proceedings may turn to notorios who are not authorized to provide immigration assistance.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association says the shift in policy is not a program for amnesty. Immigration officials are merely prioritizing what cases they deem are low priority or high priority in terms of removal proceedings. But under the current understanding, there are no guarantees any individual case will be deemed a low priority case, according to the association.

Individuals or businesses in South Florida seeking information on work visas, or assistance in immigration issues including deportation can speak with an experienced Miami immigration attorney for advice on the potential avenues available under U.S. immigration laws in a specific situation.

Source: Tulsa World, "Immigration cases may see delays as deportations prioritized," Ginnie Graham, Sept. 6, 2011

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