Washington, D.C.-

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has announced that the agency will be reviewing every one of the 300,000 deportation cases to determine which should be prioritized, and which should be put on the back burner.

The review will cover all the currently pending cases in the federal immigration court system so that judges can adjudicate higher priority cases more efficiently. DHS will be working with the Department of Justice to identify low-priority cases, such as those involving minors, the elderly, pregnant women, veterans and armed services members, the disabled, and victims of serious crimes. They will prioritize cases which involve convicted felons, known gang members, and those who threaten public safety or national security, among other criteria.

Proponents say this action is a fairer and more humanistic approach to the problems caused by illegal immigration. They also say it will streamline the process of deportation, and get the most dangerous illegal immigrants out first. The Obama administration–which strongly supports this action–has said, “it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases, such as individuals… who were brought into this country as young children and know no other home.”

On the other hand, critics, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, say that this is a backdoor way to enact the policies of the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal minors the chance to attain citizenship if they attend at least two years of college or join the military. The DREAM Act has repeatedly failed to pass Congress. Those for more aggressive immigration reform decry this policy as, effectively, granting amnesty to those individuals deemed a lower priority, and doing so by bypassing Congress.

Napolitano has said that this policy does not negate the need for legislative immigration reform like the DREAM Act and that the Act should still be passed.

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