11 Ways the Immigration Reform Bill Can Protect the Rights of Non-citizens

Immigrant Rights 06.12,13

A key part of the comprehensive bill, S. 744, to fix our nation’s broken immigration system includes changes that will address the fundamental rights that non-citizens have when they come into any contact with the immigration system. Here are 11 principles that the Senate should ensure make it into the final bill:

  1. Consider the Facts. Immigration judges and agency officials should have the ability to consider the individual facts and grant relief in appropriate cases. These public officials make decisions on a daily basis that have serious consequences for immigrants and their U.S. citizen relatives and they need to have the discretion to do their job properly and ensure that every person is treated fairly and humanely.
  2. Limit Detention. The Senate should retain provisions that limit the costly, unnecessary, and unfair detention of people who are in immigration proceedings and reject any amendments that would weaken these provisions.

  3. Prohibit Racial Profiling. Immigration officials should be prohibited from using racial profiling. Congress should not sanction any form of racial profiling; it is inefficient and fundamentally un-American.

  4. Restrict E-Verify. The Senate should amend language authorizing E-Verify, which still has a significant error rate, to mitigate some of its negative effects.

  5. Provide a Real Chance for Citizenship. The Senate should not add anymore criteria that would exclude immigrants applying for RPI status (applying to get on the road to citizenship) to a bill that is already extremely tough those convicted of felonies, aggravated felonies, other serious offenses, or those who pose a threat to national security or public safety criteria.

  6. Invest in Rational Border Enforcement. Common-sense border policy should invest in our ports of entry and recognize that border enforcement spending must be rational while at the same time ensuring stronger oversight and accountability measures are put in place.

  7. Assure Swift Judicial Review. The Senate must include provisions that authorize prompt judicial review of final administrative decisions under the Administrative Procedure Act to prevent injustice in cases where a single agency employee misinterprets the law.

  8. Handle Visa Violations Fairly. The Senate should oppose more punitive and less constructive provisions to address those noncitizens who overstay their visas, including provisions that would impose mandatory imprisonment or deny hearings prior to deportation.

  9. Ensure a Uniform Federal Law. The Senate bill should ensure that immigration is governed by uniform federal law throughout the country by preventing the improper state & local targeting of individuals for harassment and punishment.

  10. Protect Vulnerable Populations. The Senate should reject any effort to weaken or limit the rights of people with significant mental disabilities, unaccompanied minors, or other vulnerable populations to have counsel appointed to them in immigration proceedings.

  11. Restrict the Use of Solitary Confinement. The Senate should reject any effort to reinstate arbitrary filing deadlines or to punish asylum seekers and refugees by delaying important reforms, and protect provisions that restrict the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention, which is especially dangerous when used against asylum seekers, refugees, and other vulnerable people.

Read full letter to U.S. Senators signed by civil and human rights groups.