For Immediate Release: January 28, 2013
Washington, DC – Today, as a bipartisan group of Senators announce their shared vision for comprehensive immigration reform and President Obama prepares to deliver the details of his plan tomorrow in Las Vegas, Human Rights First urges Congress and the administration to support measures that are consistent with U.S. values and commitments to due process, as well as human rights and the protection of refugees.
“Immigration reform initiatives should honor our history as a nation of immigrants and a global leader in the protection of refugees. We welcome the call by leaders on both sides of the aisle to prioritize immigration reform, fix existing visa programs and provide a pathway to citizenship,” says Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “As these proposals take shape over the coming months, Congress and the president should commit to measures that will strengthen basic due process, fix the nation’s flawed approach to immigration detention, and realize the full potential of America’s commitment to refugees.”
Specifically, Human Rights First recommends that immigration reform legislation include provisions to:
- Eliminate the wasteful and counter-productive asylum filing deadline that is barring refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from asylum and diverting overstretched adjudication resources.
- Reduce unnecessary immigration detention costs and implement lasting reforms through cost-effective alternatives to detention, immigration court review of detention decisions, and standards and conditions in line with the American Bar Association’s proposed civil immigration detention standards.
- Require and support a fair and efficient adjudication process, providing for Legal Orientation Programs and counsel where justice requires, including for children, persons with mental disabilities, and other vulnerable immigrants in immigration detention.
- Protect refugees from inappropriate exclusion and free up administrative resources by adjusting overly broad immigration law definitions that have mislabeled refugees as supporters of “terrorism.”
Human Rights First notes that many of the inefficiencies and problems in the existing immigration system were created by past reform initiatives.
“In the wake of today’s show of bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform and President Obama’s stated commitment to achieving this goal, now is the time for the United States to bring its policy in line with American values. As this legislative effort moves forward, we urge Congress and the Obama Administration to reject proposals that undermine due process, human rights, and this country’s leadership in the protection of refugees,” concluded Acer.
For detail on Human Rights First’s recommendations to President Obama, see How to Repair the U.S. Asylum and Refugee Systems (2012) and How to Repair the U.S. Immigration Detention System (2012).
To speak with Acer, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.