Written by Staff Writer
With DACA program protections expired, tens of thousands of individuals are expected to end up in the US as undocumented immigrants. According to Credible, a company that makes sure businesses comply with immigration laws, these “new face cases” have increased significantly in six large US cities where it reported increases of around 560% and 633% in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
“Even as the total number of face cases is minimal, the increase in profile cases in the six cities is remarkable,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, the outgoing director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.
In theory, new cases are the fastest-growing category of undocumented immigrants. In practice, however, it’s far more difficult to track new cases.
What’s more, once face cases start to play out in federal court, a lengthy legal procedure often means that their numbers become even harder to track.
For years, ICE’s legal arm worked at cross-purposes with its enforcement function, making a practice of targeting undocumented immigrants — and so-called “hard criminal” immigrants — for removal who hadn’t been convicted of any crime.
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That changed under US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said ICE would only intervene when there was “a clear public safety threat” posed by an undocumented immigrant.
The consequence of this shift, however, was the slow churn of thousands of undocumented immigrants across federal courtrooms as new cases were filed against them on regular basis. In an analysis of 6,760 federal court cases filed between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, and published in the journal Case Western Reserve Law Review, Emily Frekes of the New York Civil Liberties Union described it as a “significant increase in the civil immigration system.”
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And as these cases progress, the ripple effect of the deportation process begins to have its impact on the rest of the US — not just on the undocumented immigrant subject of the proceedings, but on those living and working in the country. The risk of disruption to their professional or personal lives in the way of “incarceration, removal from the country, separation from families or businesses, or removal from the United States itself can have a profound impact on individuals and families.”
That pressure is in evidence in Houston, where in 2018 federal court received 139 “new face cases” — up 528% year on year — according to Credible. At the same time, the Houston real estate market experienced a 60% rise in face cases filed between 2016 and 2017.