National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Senators Menendez and Kennedy Stand Up for Due Process in Immigration Enforcement

September 27, 2008

Washington, DC – Last night, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 3594, the Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act, a bill that would preserve basic due process rights for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and workers involved in labor disputes who are swept up in immigration raids.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan, pro-immigrant advocacy group in Washington.

We congratulate Senators Menendez and Kennedy on the introduction of the Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act, as it is an important and necessary response to the abuses inflicted on U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), and other workers in the name of immigration worksite enforcement.  Throughout the course of the year, we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of mass immigration raids in which hundreds of workers have been arrested.  As the numbers have increased, so has the level of impunity, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents engage in cowboy antics that deny workers basic respect and dignity.  These harsh tactics include everything from providing no notice of why individuals are under arrest to the deprivation of basic necessities like medicine, to rapid transfer to facilities far from families and homes.  We have seen a further erosion of fundamental American due process of law, interference by ICE with ongoing labor investigations and disputes, and the detention of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents, which is a black mark on our country and our government.

It is clear that ICE is unwilling or unable to police itself, making legislation necessary.  This bill also highlights yet again the failures of our broken immigration system.  The raids are a misguided attempt to put “tough” enforcement ahead of sensible reform.  Raids neither make our country safer nor resolve our immigration crisis.  They simply undermine due process and labor protections, resulting in a weaker, rather than a stronger nation.

This bill is a step towards ensuring that the rule of law applies to government officials as well as individuals, that the rights of workers and detainees are respected, and that Congress provides much needed oversight where immigration enforcement is concerned.

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