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Congressional Bills Introduced to Reform Immigration Detention

Jul 31, 2009

U.S. Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced today 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).

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. This bill was introduced due the high number of cases in which U.S. citizens, immigrants and others are mistakenly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and were exposed to inhumane treatment.

Various groups such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association, 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 endorsed these pieces of legislation.

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