Immigration Advocates Thank Sensenbrenner for Support on Due Process Bill

July 22, 2002

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
House Judiciary Chairman
2332 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4909
Telephone: (202) 225-5101

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to you to convey our appreciation of your compromise with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), on the final language of the Family Reunification Act (H.R. 1452).  We commend your acknowledgement that certain long-term legal permanent residents who have built their family, community and professional lives in America, but who have previously committed a non-violent offense, deserve a second chance.  Your compromise supports the principle that we are a fair nation. 

As you know, H.R. 1452 allows certain legal permanent residents who are deportable as a matter of law, to apply for a limited form of relief known as "cancellation of removal" before an Immigration Judge.  The compromise language carefully limits eligibility to legal permanent residents who are subject to automatic deportation despite circumstances that seem to argue for relief.  The special category of hardship cases covered by this bill include: 1) permanent residents who were brought legally to the U.S. when still young children and now face deportation to countries they no longer even remember, let alone speak the language; 2) permanent residents who committed crimes well before the 1996 enactment of IIRIRA that the Act reclassified as "aggravated felonies"; and 3) aliens who have committed relatively minor crimes. 

Importantly, the compromise language of H.R. 1452 maintains the distinction between "eligibility" and "relief," and requires every applicant for cancellation to present their facts to an Immigration Judge, and prove that they deserve relief as a matter of discretion.  Every applicant would be required to document and testify to their rehabilitation, hardship to American family members if deported, and close family, business, and property ties to the United States.  Finally, the compromise language of H.R. 1452 preserves the Attorney General's authority to overrule any decision and, moreover, detain legal permanent residents who are dangerous or likely to flee.    

We look forward to the upcoming mark-up of H.R. 1452 and understand that there may efforts to amend the carefully crafted language of your proposal.  As we have seen in the past, we hope your pre mark-up discussions with Republicans on the committee will allow for bi-partisan support for your compromise bill.  We are deeply concerned that any further restrictions would undermine the very heart of H.R. 1452. 


American Civil Liberties Union
Anti-Defamation League
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Citizens and Immigrants for Equal Justice
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Immigration and Refugee Services of America
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Immigration Forum
National Immigration Law Center
National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 02072271.