Policy Document

How the Obama Administration Can Keep Families Together

What do we want?

1.  The Fast for Our Families wants the Obama Administration to act in its Executive Authority  to suspend the deportation of immigrants with American families, especially families with US Citizen children or spouses until Congress acts to fix the broken immigration system.  We cannot just sit back and wait for immigration reform while our families are being torn apart.

2.  The Fast for Our Families also wants the Obama Administration to send the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to South Florida to meet with the fasters so that she may hear from us directly about the conditions that moved us to fast- the effects that raids, detentions, and deportations are having on our families and communities. We are hopeful that this dialog will produce real solutions.

What the Obama Administration can do now, pending immigration reform, to suspend deportations affecting American families:

1.  The Obama Administration can use its Executive Authority to suspend deportations of immigrants with American families, and help keep families together, by

  1. Scaling back home and other raids that primarily target long term residents and people with American families.
  2. Granting deferred action requests for immigrants with American families that have final orders of deportation for a minimum of 1 year.
  3. Granting work permits to people who have been granted deferred action or whose removal has been suspended so that they may contribute to society.
  4. Immediately releasing individuals from detention who are not a flight risk or a threat to our communities through parole, release on their own recognizance, or low bond.
  5. Allowing one-year adjournments, and granting motions to continue immigration court cases for individuals that are currently in removal proceedings but have American families.
  6. Administratively closing immigration cases for immigrants in proceedings who have American families, and whose deportations do not serve a common interest.
  7. Reopening of removal cases of all Immigrants with American families that are subject to final orders, but would otherwise be able to adjust their status. 
  8. Exercising prosecutorial discretion at all stages of the removal process for immigrants with American family members, whether it be choosing not to institute removal proceedings, declining to proceed in a removal proceeding, or declining to execute a removal order.
  9. Creating a fairer process for immigrants with American families to adjust by moving away from the practice of presuming marriages are false or immigrants are dishonest.
  10. Creating a fairer process for immigrants already separated by deportation so that they may be reunited with their immigrant families.

2.  The Obama Administration must create an open and honest process by which the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice weigh the best interests of an immigrant’s family and the community they reside in before deporting them.  They can do this by creating a more accountable and systematic process for all ICE, CIS, and CBP officials to exercise their prosecutorial discretion (deferred action, joint motions to terminate, etc) at the earliest stage in the apprehension and deportation process.

a.)  Fully supporting legislative changes that restore discretion to immigration judges to consider cases that currently result in mandatory removal and detention.  We believe it is appropriate for judges, not agency officials, to be the primary arbiters that determine the best interest of American families, children, and communties.

b.)  Creating better standards for prosecutorial and judicial discretion that fulfill our obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child and more accurately evaluating the human, social, and financial costs of deporting parents, spouses, or children with American families.  Standards of prosecutorial and judicial discretion should be based on whether an individual deportation is in the “best interest” of an American family, child, or community.

Reason:  Currently, communities pour an overwhelming amount of resources into support campaigns for each and every individual case of a deportation that would clearly and plainly justify an exercise of discretion.  There simply has to be a more effective way to persuade ICE, CIS, and CBP officials to exercise the discretion that they are expected to use in accordance with the Meissner Memo and common sense.

3.  The Obama Administration must create an open line of communication between communities and the Department of Homeland Security.  We, as community members that are directly affected by DHS actions, must be able to talk directly with the head of the agency, Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Reason:  On several occasions, community organizations in Florida have attempted to have open meetings with several high-ranking officials, including ICE Field Office Director Michael Rozos, ICE Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony Mangione, and Supervisory Deport Officer Neil Acri.  Each received written requests from community and faith groups asking for meetings to discuss the effects that raids, detentions, and deportation were having on communities.  Miami ICE Field Office Director Michael Rozos declined formally in writing.  Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony Mangione never responded, nor did Supervisory Officer Neil Acri. 

We feel that in a democracy it is a responsibility of government agencies to be actively communicating with the communities in which they operate.  Because we have tried and failed to create that line of communication locally, we believe Secretary Napolitano is the only person who will have the authority to address our situation.