The Obama administration has begun a profound shift in its enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, aiming to hasten the integration of long-term illegal immigrants into society rather than targeting them for deportation, according to documents and federal officials.
In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to ensure that the majority of the United States’ 11.3 million undocumented immigrants can stay in this country, with agents narrowing enforcement efforts to three groups of illegal migrants: convicted criminals, terrorism threats or those who recently crossed the border.
While public attention has been focused on the court fight over President Obama’s highly publicized executive action on immigration, DHS has with little fanfare been training thousands of immigration agents nationwide to carry out new policies on everyday enforcement.
The legal battle centers on the constitutionality of a program that would officially shield as many as 5 million eligible illegal immigrants from deportation, mainly parents of children who are U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. A federal judge put the program, known by the acronym DAPA, on hold in February after 26 states sued.