Prosecutorial discretion is a discretionary relief where Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), the agency that initiates and executes removal/deportation from the United States, can choose to temporarily pause removal/deportation or release an individual from detention based on certain factors.
In exercising prosecutorial discretion, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) may administratively close a pending removal case (removal proceedings delayed), grant voluntary departure, grant deferred action (defer a pending removal), reissue or cancel a Notice to Appear, or release a detained individual on bond or an order of supervision. Note, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, it is unlikely that a pending removal case would be terminated unless there are extenuating factors present. In order to request prosecutorial discretion in a pending removal case or detention case, an immigration lawyer would submit the request to Immigration Custom and Enforcement (ICE).
However, in cases where the immigrant has a criminal history these types of cases are deemed enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion will not be exercised in these types of cases. ICE will consider the following factors in deciding whether to grant or exercise prosecutorial discretion:
- the person’s length of presence in the United States, with particular consideration given to presence while in lawful status;
- the circumstances of the person’s arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
- the person’s pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the United States;
- whether the person, or the person’s immediate relative, has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat;
- the person’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
- the person’s immigration history, including any prior removal, outstanding order of removal, prior denial of status, or evidence of fraud;
- whether the person poses a national security or public safety concern;
- the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
- the person’s ties to the home country and condition in the country;
- the person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly;
- whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent;
- whether the person is the primary caretaker of a person with a mental or physical disability, minor, or seriously ill relative; ;
- whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing;
- whether the person or the person’s spouse suffers from severe mental or physical illness;
- whether the person is likely to be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal, including as an asylum seeker, or a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other crime; .and .
- whether the person is currently cooperating or has cooperated with federal, state or local law enforcement authorities, such as ICE, the U.S Attorneys or Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, or National Labor Relations Board, among others.
A formal written request for prosecutorial discretion must be submitted to the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) office with jurisdiction over the pending case. The request must also contain supporting evidence of the above favorable factors. A request for prosecutorial discretion is best prepared and presented to ICE by an immigration lawyer. In most cases, a follow-up phone conversation is needed between the immigration lawyer submitting the request and the ICE official making the decision on whether to grant prosecutorial discretion. Our office has been very successful in obtaining prosecutorial discretion on behalf of our clients in removal proceedings. Contact our office for a free initial in-office consultation.