Caribbean nationals, including Jamaicans who are illegal immigrants living in the United States (US), are to benefit from a new immigration policy by the Obama administration which this week said it will allow those facing deportation the chance to remain in the country and apply for work permits.
The move will see the administration focusing on removing convicted criminals and those who might be a national security or public safety threat.
According to the Associated Press, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the new policy will allow for a case-by-case review for each of the more than 300,000 illegal immigrants who are facing possible deportation, and whose cases are in Federal Courts.
Advocates for an immigration overhaul have suggested that the administration take a deeper look at the system to weed out the worst immigrants, especially those who pose a danger to the US and its citizens.
The groups have also complained that people who had not yet been convicted of a crime were being caught up in the system. The advocates argue that by placing all illegal immigrants in the same category for deportation, the administration failed to live up to its promise to only deport the “worst of the worst”, as President Obama had said.
Napolitano, in a letter to a group of senators supporting new immigration legislation, said, from a law-enforcement and public-safety perspective, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforcement resources must continue to be focused on their highest priorities.
“Doing otherwise hinders our public-safety mission, clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from the individuals who pose a threat to public safety,” Napolitano said.
Some states are said to be rebelling against another administration effort to control illegal immigration known as Secure Communities. Under that programme, individuals suspected to be criminals, when caught by law-enforcement officials, are fingerprinted, which is imprinted into the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine the person’s immigration status.
The states have argued that the programme puts them in the position of policing immigration, which they consider a federal responsibility.