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The federal government is delaying the deportation of more than 56,000 immigrants in the country illegally, mainly for cost-cutting reasons, a report claims.
In an about-face from its vow to deport quickly Central American families who were part of a surge along the U.S.-Mexico two years ago, the Obama administration temporarily is allowing them to remain in the United States, according to the New York Times.
After an outcry by proponents of strict immigration enforcement reacting to tens of thousands of Central Americans showing up at the border, the administration said it would rush their cases through immigration court to send a message to others in Central American who might be tempted to try to do the same.
Citing unnamed federal officials, the Times reported that the delays were caused by people who were supposed to wear electronic monitoring devices going without them.
Some of the immigrants had not showed up to get fitted with the ankle bracelets, the Times reported, citing a memo by the chief immigration judge, Print Maggard, in Arlington, Virginia.
Some of the their cases won’t be heard in court until as late as 2023, the Times reported.
Eleni Wolfe-Roubatis, the immigration program director at the Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, California, a legal services agency for immigrants, said many of her cases had been pushed to as far back as 2020.
People who did show up for appointments with authorities are still on track to go to court, the Times reported.
“The whole thing is docket chaos,” Paul Schmidt, a retired immigration judge, told the paper.
Some immigrants who did not show up for appointments may have been confused, because there are two separate agencies – the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review – that handle deportation.
Some immigration lawyers say the cases that still are going through the courts are being handled improperly.
“In all of these cases, I’m going to go into the court date and say, ‘I was not given any chance to say whether or not I was available, so you have to adjourn this,’” Bryan S. Johnson, a private immigration lawyer in New York, told the Times.
The surge in Central American families at the U.S.-Mexico border hit about two years ago, with many telling Border Patrol officials they wanted asylum. They claimed to be fleeing gang violence in their homelands. Many were from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
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