When Beatles star John Lennon faced deportation from the U.S. in the 1970s, his lawyer Leon Wildes made a groundbreaking argument. He argued that Lennon should be granted “nonpriority” status pursuant to INS’s (now DHS’s) policy of prosecutorial discretion. In U.S. immigration law, the agency exercises prosecutorial discretion favorably when it refrains from enforcing the full scope of immigration law. A prosecutorial discretion grant is important to an agency seeking to focus its priorities on the “truly dangerous” in order to conserve resources and to bring compassion into immigration enforcement. The Lennon case marked the first moment that the immigration agency’s prosecutorial discretion policy became public knowledge. Today, the concept of prosecutorial discretion is more widely known in light of the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, a record number of deportations and a stalemate in Congress to move immigration reform.
Beyond Deportation is the first book to comprehensively describe the history, theory, and application of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law. It provides a rich history of the role of prosecutorial discretion in the immigration system and unveils the powerful role it plays in protecting individuals from deportation and saving the government resources. Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia draws on her years of experience as an immigration attorney, policy leader, and law professor to advocate for a bolder standard on prosecutorial discretion, greater mechanisms for accountability when such standards are ignored, improved transparency about the cases involving prosecutorial discretion, and recognition of “deferred action” in the law as a formal benefit.
- "The definitive word on the all-important tool of prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement. Wadhia traces the fascinating history of the exercise of such discretion under U.S. immigration law, which includes careful study of the famous case of John Lennon and Yoko Ono through to the use of such discretion in President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Rather than simply describing the history, Beyond Deportation offers concrete recommendations about prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement, including greater transparency in decisionmaking and rules that limit government attorneys in the exercise of discretion. Wadhia has written an important analysis of the most significant positive immigration development of the Obama administration."
—Kevin R. Johnson, University of California, Davis
“In Beyond Deportation, Wadhia has managed to combine meticulous research, scholarly rigor, easy readability, and an intense human compassion in highlighting one of the most volatile issues of our time. With amazing ease, she takes on immigration, the rule of law, and the role of executive branch discretion in tempering our harsh deportation laws with humanitarian restraint and a common sense stewardship of our limited enforcement resources. For immigrants and their families, and for all who care about law and justice, this is a powerful and compelling story, eloquently told.”
—Stephen Legomsky, John S. Lehmann University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis
“When there are more than 11 million people eligible for deportation, something is seriously wrong with our immigration system and our enforcement system, but Congress has so far refused to legislate and advance immigration reform. This inaction forces enforcement agencies to prioritize and make choices about who they will deport first and whose deportation they will defer so that we can focus on removing those who pose a risk to our public safety. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of this basic truth in American law and immigration policy. The fact that this issue is at the center of the debate over immigration reform right now because the House of Representatives refuses to reform the current system, makes this work timely and incredibly helpful for scholars, students, policymakers, and leaders.”
—Luis V. Gutiérrez, U.S. House of Representatives
“Beyond Deportation is a compelling and thoughtful account of the history of the use of prosecutorial discretion in US immigration law and policy, and how that history continues to shape today’s immigration programs.”
—Margaret D. Stock, author of Immigration Law and the Military
“This timely review of immigration prosecutorial discretion will be very valuable to those interested in immigration law. Wadhia gives a detailed description of the different forms such discretion can take, with a particular emphasis on deferred action, including President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)….The book is an essential resource for researchers wishing to study deferred action prior to and immediately after the introduction of DACA. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”
“The book examines how prosecutorial discretion interacts with the resource constraints of government agencies alongside immigrants’ humanitarian circumstances. It expands understandings of how 'deferred action,' a significant form of prosecutorial discretions, is employed by non-citizens as a protective tool from deportation.”
— International Migration Review
“With Beyond Deportation, Wadhia has simultaneously created a short, accessible, and comprehensive primer on prosecutorial discretion in immigration while raising profound questions on the usage and evolution of this tool into one that is more transparent, humanitarian, and just.”
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