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How To Stop Deportation: Prosecutorial Discretion

Facing the possibility of deportation through removal proceedings is frightening, but the team at Odunlami Law can help you take advantage of numerous options to stop deportation. Seeking prosecutorial discretion is one of those options.

We can help you determine whether prosecutorial discretion is your best option and work to help you achieve the right outcome to keep you in the U.S. legally while working toward your Green Card.

Understanding Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law

In an immigration removal proceeding, prosecutorial discretion refers to the ability of immigration authorities to discontinue working on a removal case. Immigration officials sometimes refer to it as “PD”” It could mean simply setting aside the case for a while to focus on cases of higher priority. Or PD could involve U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting an administrative law judge to close a removal case. Or it could simply involve ICE not acting on an existing removal order.

Decisions about whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion are made on a case-by-case basis in most situations unless there has been a political directive to grant (or refuse to grant) prosecutorial discretion to individuals in certain circumstances.

The general idea behind PD is that the U.S. government has limited time and resources to enforce immigration laws so that exercising PD to stop some cases frees up authorities to focus on cases that pose a greater risk to national security and public safety.  

Prosecutorial Discretion is Not a Status

While removal proceedings against you can be stopped effectively due to prosecutorial discretion, this usually only freezes your case. It does not grant you permanent relief. Prosecutorial discretion can be used as a helpful tool to protect you in the short term, but it will still be necessary to take steps to secure legal status going forward.

You may be able to qualify for immigration benefits independent of prosecutorial discretion. For instance, if you applied for asylum and, while waiting for the decision on asylum you apply for prosecutorial discretion to obtain administrative closure of your removal case, then you may become eligible to receive work authorization on the basis of the pending application for asylum.

Who is Likely to Be Granted Prosecutorial Discretion?

You are more likely to have your removal proceedings stopped on the grounds of prosecutorial discretion when you can demonstrate that you are a “low priority” case. Showing that you are not a risk to either national security or the public safety can persuade immigration officials that your deportation proceedings should be set aside.

Some of the factors that can help you demonstrate that you are a low risk, low priority case include:

  • Having been a resident of the U.S. for a long time
  • Providing care for a family member in the U.S.
  • Being in the military or public service or having immediate family members in the military or public service
  • Being the victim of a crime or witness or party to a legal proceeding
  • Eligibility for humanitarian protection

Having any criminal activity on your record can make it more difficult to obtain prosecutorial discretion. If you have been convicted of a crime or admitted to commission of a crime, it is helpful to show that you have been rehabilitated or simply that it occurred a long time ago and that you have not been in trouble with the law since then. It might make sense to work with a criminal attorney who can help clear your record before seeking PD. Alternatively, if you can show that you suffer from a mental or physical condition that could have contributed to the conduct and that you have or are receiving treatment, that can also make your case for deportation one of lower priority so that you are more likely to be granted prosecutorial discretion.

Talk to Odunlami Law About Using PD or Other Methods to Stop Deportation

At Odunlami Law, we understand the immigration journey, and we know how important it is to stop removal proceedings. However, we also know that it is essential to evaluate all the consequences and options available before taking action with immigration authorities. Taking a different direction or adding steps in addition to efforts to seek prosecutorial discretion could help you more in the long run.

Regardless of where you are in the country, we invite you to contact us to find out how we can provide the most effective assistance with deportation and other immigration law issues. Our team can help you make the best case for prosecutorial discretion or other forms of removal relief. 


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