On August 18, 2011, the Obama Administration announced the formation of a high-level working group to review approximately 300,000 pending immigration removal cases and administratively close proceedings against individuals found to be a “low” enforcement priority. The review process, which will be conducted by members of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, is intended to ease the tremendous backlog in the immigration courts and to ensure that government resources are focused on cases involving the government’s highest immigration enforcement priorities—public safety, national security and border security. In determining whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion, working group members will take relationships of LGBT families into account, just as they will all other family ties. Although no category of cases will receive a blanket exercise of favorable prosecutorial discretion, certain categories of individuals—including veterans, long-time permanent residents, minors, the elderly, individuals who have been present since childhood, individuals with serious disabilities or health issues, nursing or pregnant women, and victims of domestic violence or other serious crimes—will receive particular attention. Respondents whose cases are administratively closed will be eligible to apply for an employment authorization document through USCIS.
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