(ICE.gov) – ICE is the largest investigative agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is responsible for identifying and eliminating border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security vulnerabilities. It enforces the I-9 program, the SEVIS program for students, immigration enforcement, detention, and removal.
(“Morton Memo”) – Issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director (ICE) John Morton in June 2011, these memoranda lists several factors for ICE to consider when deciding whether to enforce immigration laws against certain individuals and groups. The primary memo (the “Morton Memo on Prosecutorial Discretion”) calls on ICE attorneys and employees to refrain from pursuing noncitizens with close family, educational, military, or other ties in the U.S. and instead spend the agency’s limited resources on persons who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security. In particular, these persons might include serious felons, repeat offenders, known gang members, and those with an egregious record of immigration violations, among others. Morton’s second memo focuses on cases involving victims, witnesses to crimes, and plaintiffs in good faith civil rights lawsuits. The memo instructs “[a]bsent special circumstances or aggravating factors, it is against ICE policy to initiate removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime.”
On June 15, 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that certain people who came to the United States illegally as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action and may be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not confer lawful immigration status, alter an individual’s immigration status, or confer citizenship.
The United States has placed legal limits on how many foreign nationals may permanently immigrate each year. These limits apply to the family-based, employment-based, and diversity lottery categories. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issues a monthly publication known as the visa bulletin, which contains information on the availability of immigrant visa numbers.
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