On the Road to Comprehensive Immigration Reform

AI Justice Team May 20, 2013 Comments Off

Newsletter  |  Spring 2013
Vol. 17, Issue No. 2

In April, eight Senators introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.  The 854-page bill is a comprehensive overhaul of much of our nation’s immigration system.  It includes a path to citizenship for millions of currently undocumented immigrants and many other provisions supported by AI Justice.   As the bill moves through the legislative process in the Senate, AI Justice is hopeful that negotiators can preserve many of the smaller provisions which will have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of the people that we serve.  These provisions include those addressing detention center monitoring, asylum-seekers, and legal counsel for unaccompanied immigrant children and the mentally ill.

New legislation is likely to have a heavy emphasis on enforcing immigration laws at the border and in the interior of the United States.  For example, the Senate bill calls for additional resources on the border such as an increased number of Customs and Border Protection officers, use of National Guard personnel, and increased technology.    The Senate bill also provides that enforcement officers should receive training in human and civil rights as well as how to screen for and treat vulnerable populations such as children, victims of crime and human trafficking, and individuals fleeing persecution or torture.

It is AI Justice’s position that a call for training on the border is not sufficient to protect the due process and human rights of many immigrants who are held at border patrol stations.  The lack of meaningful language on the protections for immigrants is particularly startling when compared to the tremendous amount of resources aimed at border enforcement.  In response, we are working with Members of Congress to introduce legislation that would increase protections for individuals like those who are part of our “icebox” campaign (Read AI Justice Tackles Abuse and Injustice on the Texas Border).  In order to be most effective, AI Justice is working to introduce a bi-partisan bill that will address conditions of detention, length of detention, and treatment in border patrol stations.

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