Sunday, April 14, 2013

Former Immigration Judge Calls for Discretion in Deportation Cases

Paul Grussendorf, a retired immigration judge, penned this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Over the past two decades, Congress has severely curtailed the discretion of immigration judges to evaluate cases on an individual basis and to grant relief to deserving immigrants and their families. Our system, amended in 1996 by harsh provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, has insurmountable hurdles that prevent many individuals from obtaining legal status, or strip them of the legal status they already have for criminal offenses that may have been minor, occurred many years previously, and for which they have already been held accountable. The law blocks these individuals from presenting their case to an immigration judge before facing permanent exile.

Legal permanent residents, such as green-card holders, face a particularly harsh and unfair reality under immigration law. Anyone with an "aggravated felony" conviction is automatically barred from seeking relief from deportation. It doesn't matter how old or minor the offense is, or what the person has done with his or her life since then. Aggravated felony may sound extreme, but this category now covers a long list of offenses, including misdemeanors and crimes involving no violence at all.


Federal legislation should include a waiver that allows immigration judges the discretion to grant relief from deportation in deserving cases by weighing the age of the conviction, the severity of the offense, evidence of rehabilitation, substantial family ties in the United States and other factors relevant to the public interest. Read more...


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