Prioritization of Immigration Enforcement: An Effective Use of Federal Resources

By Benny Agosto, Jr.

Immigration has become a hotbed of discussion amongst Americans and politicians alike. With more than 10 million undocumented workers in the United States, it’s unrealistic to try and deport such a tremendous number. So, the President has focused his attention to developing an immigration solution that effectively meets the country’s security and economic needs. To do so, the Administration has created a strategy to utilize government resources in a way that puts national security and public safety at the forefront—prioritizing immigration enforcement.

While speaking at the Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Convention in Dallas earlier this month, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, stated the Administration’s position very clearly. The Department of Homeland Security has made the removal of those who have been convicted of a crime in the United States the top priority. Through the direction of the President, the DHS removed 79,000 more convicted criminals in 2010 than in 2008. By directing their attention to target the deportation of criminals who have been convicted of serious crimes, as opposed to those who are low priority cases, enforcement resources are used more effectively.

Currently, the deportation caseload is being reviewed on a case by case basis to identify those that have been convicted of a crime and those that pose a security risk to the nation. Such a process will cover a wide array of individuals, including those brought into the U.S. as small children, military veterans, and even the spouses of active duty military personnel. To determine priority of these cases, the Department of Justice and the DHS will use common sense guidelines and consider a person’s ties and contributions to the community, familial relationships and even military service records.

This approach not only tailors immigration enforcement to where it is needed most, but is a firm step toward Congress and the Administration mending the immigration system.