Exclusive: Trump targets illegal immigrants who were given reprieves from deportation by Obama
The Trump administration has moved to reopen the cases of hundreds of the undocumented whose deportation cases were administratively closed, according to government data and court documents.
Trump signaled in January that he planned to dramatically widen the net of illegal immigrants targeted for deportation, but his administration has not publicized its efforts to reopen immigration cases. The move was part of a policy change initiated by then-President Barack Obama in 2011 to pull back from deporting immigrants who had formed deep ties in the United States and whom the government considered no threat to public safety. Instead, the administration would prioritize illegal immigrants who had committed serious crimes.In September 2014, Gilberto Velasquez, a 38-year-old house painter from El Salvador, received life-changing news: The U.S. government had decided to close its deportation case against him.
Gilberto has lived in the United States without authorization since 2005 and has a U.S.-born child. He received news that the government wanted to put his deportation case back on the court calendar, citing another shift in priorities, this time by President Donald Trump.
Gilberto’s case represents one of the first concrete examples of the crackdown promised by Trump and is likely to stir fears among tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who thought they were safe from deportation. While cases were reopened during the Obama administration as well, it was generally only if an immigrant had committed a serious crime, immigration attorneys say.
The Trump administration has sharply increased the number of cases it is asking the courts to reopen, and its targets appear to include even those who have not committed any crimes since their cases were closed.