Wednesday, April 4, 2012
On June 17, 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released two memos intended to guide ICE agents, attorneys, and officers regarding the exercise of discretion in immigration enforcement decisions. According to the June memos, certain immigrant workers may qualify for prosecutorial discretion, including individuals cooperating with “federal, state or local law enforcement authorities” The June memos provide ICE personnel with guidance about when to exercise prosecutorial discretion and include criteria that specifically take into account immigrant workers, both victims of workplace abuse and those attempting to enforce their labor rights. such as the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or individuals who are “plaintiffs in non-frivolous lawsuits regarding civil rights or liberties violations.” Additionally, individuals engaging in a “protected activity related to civil or other rights”4 and certain victims of serious workplace abuse may qualify as well.
Since November 17, 2011, ICE reports that it has conducted training for agency personnel on appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion, focusing on one or both of the June memos. In late November and early December of last year, ICE personnel began an initial review of incoming immigration cases and a review of docketed cases in two pilots, conducted in the Baltimore and Denver immigration courts.