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President Obama Announces New Strategy to Focus Our Resources and Maximize Public Safety

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The Obama administration yesterday announced a new immigration strategy that is designed to improve enforcement to make the system smarter, more efficient, and more fair.

The President is committed to a comprehensive approach to fixing our broken immigration system that meets America’s economic and security needs, and yesterday’s announcement marks a change that will prioritize individuals with criminal backgrounds over low-priority cases. It reflects the administration’s willingness to take important, common-sense steps in the interest of producing a better process for thousands of families.

To date, more than 300,000 immigration cases are pending before Justice Department courts that will decide whether or not to remove undocumented individuals. But these cases are clogged due to limited resources.

Under the new directive from the President, Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have established an interagency group that will begin immediately reviewing its existing caseload and prioritize the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States.

According to Cecilia Muñoz, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs:

[The administration] announced that they are strengthening their ability to target criminals even further by making sure they are not focusing our resources on deporting people who are low priorities for deportation. This includes individuals such as young people who were brought to this country as small children, and who know no other home. It also includes individuals such as military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel. It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes.

This new policy applies “common sense guidelines” to make decisions about an individual’s immigration status, such as ties and contributions to his or her community, family relationships, and military service.

Yesterday's announcement will not fix our broken immigration laws. But it will add more civility, efficiency, and fairness to laws that affect friends, family, and communities—it’s progress that can be enacted right now, and can help guide Congress on a path toward meaningful, broader reform.

Read Cecilia Muñoz’s full blog post here.