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Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 4:30pm

Deportation Orders Lifted For 1,600 Illegal Immigrants After Federal Review

More than 1,600 illegal immigrants who are not considered security threats will be allowed to stay in the United States after a review by the Obama administration.

The New York Times reported Thursday that 1,301 deportation cases were recommended for closure in Denver; that's 16 percent of the 7,900 being considered for deportation there. The Associated Press reported that 366 of the 3,759 cases were recommended for closure in Baltimore.

Both news organizations used preliminary figures from the Department of Homeland Security. The numbers haven't yet been publicly released.

The AP said:

Starting in early December, the immigration court dockets in Denver and Baltimore were suspended while officials did a "deep dive" of the entire backlog of pending deportations. Meanwhile, cases in other jurisdictions were also reviewed, though data on those reviews has not been released.

DHS officials plan to extend the review to about 300,000 cases before the nation's immigration courts. It's expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

According to The Times:

The administration's effort to apply prosecutorial discretion to halt tens of thousands of deportations is a major departure for prosecutors and enforcement agents, and was generally welcomed by immigrant organizations. But the administration is not offering any positive legal status to illegal immigrants permitted to stay. Many will be left in an indefinite limbo where they cannot work or obtain driver's licenses and may struggle to subsist, lawyers said.

The move, part of the Obama administration's pledge to focus deportation on criminal illegal immigrants and those who pose a national security or public safety threat, is not without its critics.

The AP quoted House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith as calling the policy "backdoor amnesty."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

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