AILA Applauds Today’s Congressional Effort to Reform Detention Legislation

Thursday, July 30, 2009
George Tzamaras

Senators Menendez and Gillibrand unveil legislation that requires immigration authorities to follow appropriate due process when detaining individuals and to treat detainees humanely.

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) applauds U.S. Senators Menendez (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for bringing forth a package of legislation to reform our country's detention system. The two-bill proposal includes: the Protect Citizens from Unlawful Detention Act (S. 1549), which would establish minimum standards of procedure and treatment for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and immigrants impacted by immigration enforcement and detention operations. It also includes the Strong STANDARDS Act (S. 1550), which sets minimum detention standards and requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure laws concerning the treatment of detainees are properly enforced. The Protect Citizens from Unlawful Detention is also co-sponsored by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).

"In light of the alarmingly high number of cases in which U.S. citizens, immigrants and others are mistakenly and unlawfully detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and in which detainees are exposed to inhumane conditions, it's absolutely the right thing to do," said Bernie Wolfsdorf, president of AILA. "Everyone in the U.S. deserves the protection of our laws and these legislative initiatives will help reinforce what our great country has always stood for: liberty, the rule of law and basic human rights for all."

This legislation comes in the wake of a report by the Cardozo School of Law which found a pattern of ICE agents deliberately breaking their way into private homes in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, and found a significantly high disproportion of Latino residents are arrested without an articulated reason.

AILA was among other groups such as, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Asian American Justice Center, the Episcopal Church, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, National Council of La Raza, National Immigration Forum, Rights Working Group and the Women's Refugee Commission that endorsed these pieces of legislation.


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.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 09073165.