I have many clients who nervously tell me that Immigration Enforcement (ICE) has come to their house searching for a friend or family member.
Although anyone who is currently in the United States without the proper documentation is at risk for detention and removal, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency responsible for the apprehension and detention of those who are not legally in the United States, has released a memorandum explaining its enforcement policies and guidelines. There are far too many undocumented individuals in the United States. So, DHS has chosen to focus its attention and resources on people who are considered a top priority for deportation.
Level 1 Priority
The first priority for DHS includes those who are a threat to national security, border security, and public safety. This includes people who are engaged in terrorism or who the government suspects are part of a terrorist organization. This also includes those who have been convicted of a felony, a crime that has aggravated circumstances, or those who are involved in a criminal street gang.
More commonly, those who were apprehended at the border while trying to unlawfully enter the United States are also considered a top priority.
Level 2 Priority
The second level of priority for removal are those who have committed certain misdemeanor offenses and those who have recently violated immigration laws. This category includes anyone who has been convicted of three or more misdemeanor crimes, or who has been convicted of a “significant misdemeanor.” Significant misdemeanors include: domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm, drug distribution, and driving under the influence. This means that even one driving under the influence, or DUII, conviction makes you a priority for deportation. In Oregon, some people who have been arrested for DUII can enter a program called Diversion to eliminate the conviction. However, for immigration purposes, Diversion still makes you a priority for deportation.
The second level priority also includes anyone who has been apprehended by ICE, after entering the United States without the proper documentation, and who cannot prove that they have been in the United States continuously since January 1, 2014. This means that if you unlawfully entered the United States after January 1, 2014, you are considered a priority for deportation.
Level 3 Priority
Finally, the third level of enforcement is against those who have been issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014. This means that if you have a recent deportation order, on or after January 1, 2014, you are a priority for deportation. If your deportation order occurred before January 1, 2014, you are not an enforcement priority under this category.
If you fall into any of the priorities listed above, or if you are worried that immigration enforcement is looking for you or a loved one, please call us to discuss how we can help you.