John Lennon did not know that he would be paving the way for future immigrants in Arizona and throughout the United States when he asked for help from an immigration attorney in 1972. At one point, the legendary musician was considered deportable for overstaying his visa. He had stayed in the country beyond the permitted timeframe to help his wife with a custody battle. The immigration attorney used prosecutorial discretion to argue Lennon’s case like many lawyers today use.
Prosecutorial discretion when applied to immigration law is premised on the idea that there are simply inadequate resources to pay for the removal of all of the immigrants who are not documented. Immigration officials have the power to prioritize the removal of certain people over others. This discretion may be to due to political or humanitarian reasons. The lawyer at the time was not aware of the existence of this until he made a Freedom of Information request and received documents that confirmed this series. This has now opened the door to current requests for deferred action.
The Obama administration has attempted to shield certain individuals from the deportation that can occur due to illegal immigration because of their sympathetic cases. One program that was created based on this idea is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program. This program allowed individuals to apply for deferred action which provides them with temporary relief from the deportation proceedings that could arise if detected. The Obama administration hoped to extend this idea to an additional program called Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, but this program is stalled because of legal challenges.
People who are concerned about deportation due to their undocumented status may want to meet with an immigration attorney. There are a few pathways that the attorney could describe.