Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me0174 (posted Nov. 7, 2000)"
CONTACT: Matt Tallmer, Public Affairs Manager
D.C. –An investigative television documentary set to air this week
demonstrates in graphic terms the human costs of the overly harsh 1996
immigration laws. “American Dream, American Nightmare,” to be broadcast
Friday, November 10 at 10p.m. (ET/PT) and 9p.m. (CT) on A&E as part of the
show “Investigative Reports,” tells the stories of four legal permanent
residents threatened with deportation for minor offenses committed years ago.
those profiled is Ybrenia Gomez, who immigrated from the Dominican Republican
nearly 20 years ago. Gomez, who works as an aide in a New York City nursing
home, was detained by the INS for months and is being threatened with
deportation because of one brush with the law. Fifteen years ago, she was
arrested for having two pain killers and two penicillin pills which a friend had
given her for a toothache. Because of that single incident, for which she paid a
fine, this hard-working grandmother is considered a criminal alien and has been
Dream, American Nightmare” shows that the 1996 immigration laws deny people
their day in court by refusing to allow immigration judges to review or consider
such important factors as an immigrant’s length of time in the United States,
ties to the community, or rehabilitation. They deny basic principles of law because federal courts
cannot review, let alone correct, decisions of the Immigration and
Naturalization (INS). They deny
people a second chance, because people are being deported for minor offenses for
which they already have paid their debt to society.
They change the rules in mid-game by retroactively expanding the
definition of crimes for which a person can be deported.
They tear families apart, because many people at risk of being deported
have U.S. citizen spouses and children who depend on them.
Finally, the laws hit the wrong targets by deporting legal permanent
residents with long established ties to their communities.
program dramatically proves what we have been saying for four years: that the
1996 laws violate key American principles of law, justice and fairness,” said
Jeanne A. Butterfield, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers
Association. “After viewing this show, every American who cares about fairness
and justice should call upon Congress to fix these laws and restore fairness and
balance to our immigration system. At a bare minimum, the Senate during the
upcoming lame-duck session should pass H.R. 5062, as the House already has done,
to help some families who are suffering as a result of these indefensible
explained that H.R. 5062 would allow some immigrants who face mandatory
deportation to appear before an immigration judge and request discretionary
relief from deportation. H.R. 5062 also would address some of the retroactivity
of the 1996 laws by restoring the right of some long-term legal permanent
residents to apply for relief. In addition, a legal permanent resident who would
be eligible for relief under H.R. 5062, but already has been deported, will be
given the opportunity to apply for readmission to the United States solely in
order to apply for discretionary relief.
individuals over the past four years have been torn from their loved ones.
Each day that these laws go unchanged, more immigrants are put into
jeopardy of being permanently separated from their U.S. citizen children,
spouses, and parents. The Senate
must ensure that meaningful reform is enacted this year,” Butterfield said.