USCIS Director Morton Clarifies Use of Prosecutorial Discretion

In two memoranda issued on June 17, 2011 by USCIS Director John Morton, the use of prosecutorial discretion by ICE officers is outlined.  The first memorandum clarifies the practice in general and subsequent memorandum focuses on prosecutorial discretion for witnesses of crimes, certain victims and plaintiffs.

In the memo “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with the Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens”, Director Morton gives guidance to authorized ICE personnel and clarifies the Agency’s policy on the use of prosecutorial discretion.  Director Morton emphasizes that ICE must prioritize its use of resources to focus on individuals with “negative factors” as opposed to individuals with positive contributions to society.  Some of the negative factors include individuals who are: threats to national security, serious felons, known gang members, and egregious immigration law violators.   

 Individuals who are victims or witness of crimes in the United States are specifically addressed in a second memo titled, “Prosecutorial Discretion: Certain Victims, Witnesses, and Plaintiffs”.  In this memo, Director Morton reminds ICE personnel, special agents, and attorneys of the ICE policy not to initiate removal proceedings against the victim of or witness to a crime.  This policy is based on an effort to encourage victims and witnesses of crimes to cooperating with law enforcement without the fear of being detained by ICE.

TRAC Announces statistics on Asylum Decisions

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) released data on asylum decisions made by the nation’s Immigration Judges.  Immigration Judges adjudicate asylum application made by individuals placed in removal proceedings.  The report tracks the asylum application denial rate of individual Immigration Judges and for each of the fifty Immigration Courts.  The data represents five years of asylum decisions.


USCIS announces initiative to attract foreign investors

The USCIS is working to improve and clarify the current visa petitions process in hopes of attracting highly-skilled foreign-born entrepreneurs and investors.  The goal of the initiative is to spur American job creation with the creation of new companies and investment by foreign nationals. 

No new immigration options for foreign-born investors and entrepreneurs are created by the initiative.  Rather, the initiative includes information on available visas, clarification of those visa-types, and efforts to improve visa processing for investors, executives, and entrepreneurs.

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