Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Board of Immigration Appeals Decision Demonstrates the Failings of a Deportation-Only Approach to Immigration Enforcement, New CAP Column Finds
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RELEASE: Board of Immigration Appeals Decision Demonstrates the Failings of a Deportation-Only Approach to Immigration Enforcement, New CAP Column Finds

Press Contacts

  • Claudia Montecinos

Washington, D.C. — Although many federal agencies use “cooperative enforcement” policies to promote lawful behavior by providing opportunities for individuals and entities to come into compliance with the law, immigration enforcement is almost exclusively carried out in the most punitive way possible, a new CAP column argues.

One recent example of this is the push by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reopen administratively closed removal cases for people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) initiative for the sole purpose of securing final orders of removal that can be expeditiously executed if the U.S. Supreme Court permits the administration to terminate DACA.

Last week, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a precedential decision that paves the way for the deportation of people who are eligible for and deserving of lawful status and relief from deportation. The case involved Angel Mayen-Vinalay, a Mexican national in removal proceedings who was eligible for a U visa on account of the support he provided to law enforcement in connection with a criminal matter. Although the immigration judge could have granted him a continuance until U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was able to formally grant his application—something that they had not already done only because Congress inexplicably caps the number of U visas that can be allocated to principal applicants at 10,000 annually—the judge denied his continuance and ordered him removed. The BIA affirmed the judge’s decision and observed that since Mayen could continue to request a U visa after his deportation, he was not prejudiced as a result of the decision to deny his request and order him removed.

Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at CAP and author of the column, said:

What national interest is served by pushing ahead with the deportation of people who are eligible under our laws for protection and permanent lawful status? If our goal is to build a system of rules that people can be expected to follow and that we can be trusted to enforce, it makes no sense to create insurmountable barriers that prevent people without lawful status from gaining lawful status pursuant to our very own laws. Although the country’s approach to immigration enforcement—especially since the elimination of a great deal of discretion in 1996—has too often relied upon punishments that are not proportionate to the offense, the BIA decision reflects the Trump’s administration’s exclusive focus on punishment. When the immigration enforcement machinery consistently produces results that make little sense and violate common-sense notions of fairness and justice, it justifiably undermines public confidence in the system and degrades the rule of law.

Related resources:

Restoring the Rule of Law Through a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System” by Tom Jawetz

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at cmontecinos@americanprogress.org or 202.481.8145.