For beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, the HALT Act is an ominous cloud on otherwise bright and clear horizon. Undocumented young people have benefited from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act for it allows them to be educated throughout the United States public education system regardless of their status.
Other provisions of this controversial bill to conservatives are that it prevents youth from being deported if they go to college. This bill last went to the floor for votes last Sept 21, 2010 and was defeated with a Senate filibuster. While it was reintroduced in May 11, the future of this bill seems to be grinding to a halt.
The Hinder the Administrations Legalization Act or HALT Act is currently under discussion in the Senate. The HALT act effectively prevents and prohibits the discretionary interpretation of immigration law. As such, the power to declare deportation relief is suspended under very limited exceptions. These include humanitarian reasons such as the person’s life is in imminent danger if deported and for those currently incarcerated by federal, state or national agencies for law enforcement reasons. If the HALT Act becomes law, undocumented youth would be deported without availability of appeal.
The current administration has been the high water mark for deportations than any other presidency. According to reports, in 2010 alone, there were 392,862 individuals have been deported between October 2009 and September 2010. This number is an equal apportionment of criminal immigrants and non-criminal ones. The increasing number was due to the efficiency of the Secure Communities Program. This system exchanged information between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify criminal aliens.
This number of deportations though is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the total number of the undocumented immigrants in the country. It is estimated that there are about eleven million individuals do not have the proper documentation to remain in the United States.
The current policy of deportation has not only efficiently deported criminal aliens, even non-criminal immigrants have been caught in the dragnet. These include DREAM Act students. In response, the memorandum on prosecutorial discretion was issued by the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This means that ICE officials can decide which cases to pursue and prosecute and which ones to put in the backburner.
It is precisely this discretion that the HALT Act seeks to stop. This is the nightmare DREAM Act students need to wake up from and avoid.