Immigration Law

Chicago Immigration Judge Denies Reprieve Motion

"A Chicago judge denied an immigration prosecutor’s request last week for an “administrative closure” of a deportation proceeding against Sebastian Pineda, a Mexican immigrant whose case was chronicled by The Chicago Reporter in August.  The decision threw a wrench into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s stuttering effort to carry out a 2011 directive by John Morton, the agency’s director, that urged the use of “prosecutorial discretion” to focus on deporting dangerous felons and less on minor offenders who pose no threat.  Under Morton’s policy, immigrants who have strong family ties to this country and no serious criminal background could get a reprieve from deportation.  On Tuesday, Pineda, a 31-year-old father of two U.S.-born children, was hopeful; prior to that morning’s hearing, the prosecutor had agreed to seek an “administrative closure” that would have suspended his deportation case.  But immigration judge Craig M. Zerbe had other ideas. “It’s an arbitrary decision, and I will not agree with it,” he said, denying the prosecutor’s motion.  After the hearing, Pineda and his family met with U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s staff in his Chicago office.  “Our immigration system is not supposed to work like this, and neither is prosecutorial discretion,” Gutierrez said in a written statement about Pineda’s case." - Maria Zamudio, Chicago Reporter, Jan. 27, 2013.