The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is a large organization with a simple mandate: protect the country from threats, both foreign and domestic. But within this mandate many roles are subsumed, including the role of finding, detaining, and deporting those who are in the country illegally. As such, the department plays a major role in the hot-button issue of illegal immigration in the U.S.
In an attempt to help normalize the statuses of thousands of illegal immigrants, Homeland Security recently signaled that it is considering taking a more passive approach to dealing with illegal immigrants who do not have a record of serious crime in the country.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently indicated that he is considering implementing a policy which would essentially protect those who are in the United States illegally from being deported, if they do not have a record of serious crime. The proposal, which is expected to be reviewed at the behest of President Barack Obama before its implementation, could potentially affect the immigration statuses of up to tens of thousands of immigrants who do not have the proper paperwork required to remain in the country.
John Sandweg, the former acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, publicly indicated that he had lobbied Secretary Johnson for the change.
Despite the potential benefits the policy would afford to thousands of illegal immigrants, many pro-immigrant activists are not happy with the proposal, saying that it does not go far enough. In their opinion, the Department of Homeland Security should expand a current program which allows immigrants brought to the U.S illegally as children to stay in the country and obtain work permits. They say that this program should be extended to other groups of immigrants who are in the country illegally.