Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08092968 (posted Sep. 29, 2008)"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, September 26, 2008
Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomes the introduction of the Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act (S.3594) by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). This bill would restore basic due process protections to our laws to ensure that U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and workers involved in labor disputes are not swept up in immigration raids that trample upon their fundamental rights.
The Department of Homeland Security has adopted a new enforcement paradigm that threatens our core national values of due process and respect for the rule of law. Over the last several years, DHS has spent billions of dollars on worksite and residential raids designed to net large numbers of undocumented immigrants, but these enforcement actions have too often swept up U.S. citizens and other individuals who are lawfully present in the U.S. Inadequate due process protections in our current law and a failure by the federal government to guarantee protections have led to a crisis where U.S. citizens and lawful residents have been mistakenly detained; workers have been retaliated against for exercising their rights to organize in the workplace; and DHS officials have raided private homes without a warrant and questioned individuals about their immigration status.
Charles H. Kuck, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said, "DHS undoubtedly believes that it is merely enforcing the laws that Congress has passed. But this refrain rings hollow in the face of basic due process violations. AILA certainly concurs that the only long-term solution to the complex problems plaguing our immigration system is for Congress to reform the immigration laws. In the meantime, Congress cannot and should not sit back and watch DHS trample upon the rights of innocent people caught up in immigration raids including U.S. citizens, lawful residents and victims of workplace abuses. The introduction of the Menendez-Kennedy legislation is an important first step toward guaranteeing individuals' due process rights are respected by DHS and the Administration."
The Menendez-Kennedy bill would establish minimum standards of treatment for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and immigrants who are impacted by immigration enforcement operations. This bill will ensure that immigration enforcement complements labor enforcement by requiring DHS to cooperate with labor law enforcement agencies investigating labor disputes. The bill takes important steps toward creating a more humane detention and removal system by enhancing the Department's cost-saving alternatives to detention programs and by ensuring the Department's own detention standards for the treatment of immigrant detainees are followed.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. For more information call George Tzamaras at 202-507-7649