WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Homeland Security officials are reviewing 300,000 deportation cases with an eye towards speeding the deportation of serious criminals, officials said.
The review will begin Thursday as the Department of Homeland Security begins a nationwide training plan for enforcement agents and prosecuting attorneys, The New York Times reported.
Under the new review plan, deportations of illegal immigrants with no criminal record will be reduced to allow immigration judges to focus on serious criminals or national security risks, an official told the newspaper.
"We are empowering the attorneys nationally to make them more like federal prosecutors, who decide what cases to bring," a senior Homeland Security official, who asked not to be named, told The Times.
Low-priority cases will be closed and immigrants identified as high priority will be placed on an expedited schedule for deportation.
A Homeland Security document obtained by the newspaper said the goal is to "reduce inefficiencies that delay the removal of criminal aliens and other priority cases by preventing new low priority cases from clogging the immigration court dockets."
In the second phase, which will begin next month, pilot projects in Baltimore and Denver will look at cases of immigrants who have been arrested for deportation but are not being held in detention. Immigrants who qualify will have their cases closed, but not dismissed, which means agents could re-open the deportations if the immigrants commit a crime or a new immigration violation, the newspaper said.