The Obama administration on Friday released a policy directive [text, pdf] known as the "Family Interest Directive" emphasizing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] agents should apply "prosecutorial discretion" towards undocumented immigrant parents of minors to limit detaining parents and to safeguard their parental rights. The directive does not give deportation relief to undocumented immigrants, but does stress alternatives such as placing individuals at facilities closer to their home and family. One prominent change to the previous policy is that ICE agents in each field office will particularly be assigned as field points of contact for parental rights issues. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte [official website] has spoken out against the policy [press release] as an abuse of presidential power.
Immigration law [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue over the past several years. In January, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] announced a new rule [JURIST report] making it easier for undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they have an immediate relative who is an American citizen. In October 2012 Mississippi joined [JURIST report] a lawsuit challenging a policy directive [JURIST report] announced by the Obama administration that instructs immigration enforcement agencies not to enforce deportation laws against certain young people who were brought to the US as children but never became citizens. Shortly after the Obama administration announced this rule, Iowa Congressman Steve King [official website] issued a statement [JURIST report] indicating his plans to sue the administration in order to delay implementation of the policy, and Arizona Congressman Ben Quayle introduced a bill [JURIST report] to block enforcement of the policy.