Conflict & Justice

Some Deportations Halted, But Immigrants Remain in Limbo

Raul-Cardenas-and-daughter.jpg

Raúl Cárdenas and daughter (Photo: standingonthesideoflove.org)

The Obama administration has launched a massive review of more than 11,000 immigration cases in Denver and Baltimore. As a result, some 1,600 immigrants no longer face the threat of immediate deportation.

Player utilities

(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The review is a test case for new guidelines that might be implemented nationwide.

The changes were set in motion last summer, when President Obama announced a new policy allowing some judges and attorneys to begin to use "prosecutorial discretion" when dealing with undocumented immigrants. In practice, that means the government's deportation efforts focus on undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records, rather than those who face deportation after a petty infraction, like a missing tail light.

Many of the immigrants affected by the new policy say they are in a legal limbo.

Raúl Cárdenas, an illegal immigrant in Denver, is among those who no longer face immediate deportation. He worked for eight years in the US driving heavy machinery. Then authorities found his Social Security number belonged to someone else. Despite benefiting from the new policy, he is not eligible for a work permit without a change in the law, and has no path to legalization.

"Honestly I don't know what is going to happen," he told host Marco Werman. "I can't support my family. And I also have family in Mexico that I've been supporting the last 10 years. It's really hard for me to be like that."

Raúl Cárdenas came to the US from Mexico more than a decade ago without papers. He's raising three children in Denver with his American wife, Judy. She says the threat of deportation for her husband, though diminished, remains.

"That's always there in my mind," Judy Cárdenas said. "The threat hangs over my head."

The video below was shot before the decision to suspend Raúl Cárdenas' deportation.

Comments