U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Will Be Dismissing Non-Priority Cases in an Attempt To Clear Backlog


The leading prosecutor for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has instructed their attorneys to decrease the steadily increasing backlog of cases by dismissing cases that are not a priority according to agency rules. Although, unless immigrants have a way to obtain citizenship, they could still be in a difficult situation.

This new directive is part of Biden’s attempt to fix the country’s overburdened immigration system. The new guidance by ICE will take effect on April 25, 2022. At this point, attorneys working in the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will be directed to concentrate on high-priority cases. These are cases that involve undocumented immigrants that constitute a possible threat to public safety, national security, or border security. The attorneys will be directed to dismiss non-priority cases.

This can help the immigrants that have their cases dismissed because they no longer have to worry about being removed from the country. However, these immigrants also won’t have the benefits many immigrants receive while their case is pending, such as being allowed to work and live in the United States.

Some asylum-seekers may no longer be eligible for a work permit if their case is dismissed. This would make it difficult for the immigrant to take care of themselves and their family. Learn More

The memo by the principal legal advisor Kerry E. Doyle directs the attorneys in the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor to use their prosecutorial discretion to eliminate the large backlog of cases by dismissing the cases that they do not consider to be of high priority. In addition to immigrants that are considered to be a threat to border security, national security, or public safety, migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally are considered a high priority. However, the memo does not give much guidance on how to decide which immigrants are a threat.

According to the memo, “whether a non-citizen poses a current threat to public safety is not to be determined according to bright lines or categories. It instead requires an assessment of the individual and the totality of the facts and circumstances.” The memo states that the totality of the facts and circumstances should also be considered when deciding if a non-citizen is a threat to border security.

A reduction in the ICE backlog could have a significant impact on the agency’s enforcement routines. In recent months, the agency has already ceased to perform worksite visits as part of a change in focus to emphasize more critical offenses.

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