According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency will start reopening pending cases of immigrants who applied for deportation relief. The announcement came after USCIS said it would end deferment requests and was criticized by those seeking relief for medical issues.
In August, family members who previously requested relief from deportation received a letter from USCIS that said requests for deferred action would no longer be considered by its field offices. The letter did note that there would be certain exceptions for members of the military.
Initial reports of the policy change had immigrant families feeling confused and scared, and even surprised Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the branch that determines which immigrants will be arrested or deported. USCIS eventually had to clarify the policy by adding that it was no longer considering “nonmilitary requests for deferred action.”
Now, USCIS has switched its stance and announced it would “reopen non-military deferred action cases that were pending on August 7th.” However, it is important to note that deferred action procedures for USCIS and ICE are not consistent across both agencies. While immigrants can apply for a stay of deportation or removal with ICE, they can only do this after they have run out of immigration judicial proceedings and have been ordered to be removed. ICE won’t accept “applications” for deferred action, which means the Department of Homeland Security can delay or prevent immigration enforcement.
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