Youth activists are calling on the White House to release thousands of illegal immigrants currently being held in detention. The National Immigrant Youth Alliance wants the administration to apply a new policy that stops deportations of people arrested for traffic offenses and other minor crimes to those already in jail awaiting deportation.
The activists say the new policy doesn’t apply to those who were placed into deportation proceedings prior to the Dec. 21 policy announcement.
"This policy is really for arrests moving forward," said Domenic Powell, a spokesman for NIYA. "But it'd be a real mark of sincerity to apply it to people who are already incarcerated."
The Obama administration announced last month that illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes would not be targeted for deportation.
"In order to further enhance our ability to focus enforcement efforts on serious offenders, we are changing who ICE will issue detainers against," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said in a statement. "We are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are doing everything we can to utilize our resources in a way that maximizes public safety."
At the same time, Morton announced the United States had deported a record 409,000 people in the past year.