Since President Biden took office, he has implemented many immigration reforms. These changes are an attempt to undo many of the policies of the previous administration. On May 27, 2021, Biden’s chief U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorney, John Trasviña, issued a memo to prosecutors. It outlined new guidelines for cases going forward.
Prosecutors are now encouraged to use their own judgement in pursuing a case, and they have broader authority to dismiss a case. Rather than simply pursue every possible case, they may now take the circumstance of the individual into account. For example, if an immigrant has held a green card for a significant amount of time, prosecutors can dismiss that case. Perhaps an immigrant is pregnant or seriously ill. This could be another reason to allow them to stay. Elderly immigrants may have the opportunity to remain in the States, and people who have been here since their youth may be able to stay.
There are even more factors a prosecutor may consider. If an immigrant has close family in the States, a prosecutor can reconsider their case. Maybe an immigrant is contributing to their communities or pursuing a higher education, making their stay more valuable. Prosecutors can take such elements into account. Another possibility is that an immigrant is already close to receiving citizenship or a Temporary Protected Status. Pursuing that case would be unnecessary, and prosecutors can now avoid doing so.
Prior to Reform
Under the Trump administration, prosecutors were expected to pursue every possible case. If an immigrant, on paper, could be removed, prosecutors had to pursue the case. The last administration’s chief attorney, Tracy Short, demanded that prosecutors ignore immigration attorney’s appeals. There were very few reasons a prosecutor could dismiss a case. Immigrants could stay if they had relatives in the military. Their cases could be dismissed if they had “extraordinary humanitarian factors,” and they could also stay if they were a benefit to law enforcement. Finally, they could stay if there was simply no case for deportation.
Dropping Cases Is Not Mandatory
John Trasviña’s memo is not a standardized set of rules. It is, instead, a way of letting prosecutors know that their judgement will be honored. They are professionals, and their discretion is important. Prosecutors are still free to pursue every possible case. However, the system is currently overwhelmed. There are over one million backlogged cases. Now that prosecutors can drop cases they deem unnecessary, they can start focusing on serious cases that demand their attention.
Speak With a Lawyer
If you or a loved one may benefit from these reforms, reach out to an attorney experienced in immigration law. Your appeal can now be considered by a prosecutor, and if you have substantial reason to stay in the States, your case could potentially be dropped.