October 22, 2016
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Introduction of Legislaion on Immigrant Detention Standards Applauded

 Washington, DC—NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, praised Senators Robert Menendez (D–NJ), Edward Kennedy (D–MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY) for introducing two bills yesterday to address problems in the immigration detention system. Senators Menendez, Kennedy, and Gillibrand introduced the “Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Detention Act (S.1549)” and Senators Menendez and Gillibrand introduced the “Safe Treatment, Avoiding Needless Deaths, and Abuse Reduction in the Detention System Act (S. 1550).” These important pieces of legislation call attention to the urgent need to reform our broken immigration system.

As a result of the indiscriminate rounding up of immigrants and, in some cases, U.S. citizens, the number of people who are held in detention facilities throughout the country has grown tremendously in recent years. The rapid expansion of the detention of immigrants with little oversight is costly to taxpayers and has resulted not only in the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens, but also in the deaths of immigrants.

“NCLR thanks Senators Menendez, Kennedy, and Gillibrand for their strong leadership in addressing needed reforms in the immigration detention system. These conditions clearly indicate the urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that restores dignity and balance to the system, ensuring that our enforcement tactics are sensible, accountable, fair, and humane. The priorities and tactics we choose must not undercut other important laws, values, and goals that have existed in this nation since its founding,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

The “Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Detention Act” would establish screening mechanisms to ensure that U.S. citizens and vulnerable populations—such as children and pregnant women—who are swept up in immigration enforcement operations are considered for alternatives to detention, advised of their right to counsel, and notified of the immigration charges against them.

The “Safe Treatment, Avoiding Needless Deaths, and Abuse Reduction in the Detention System Act” would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide adequate access to medical care, establish protocols to be followed when immigrants are transferred away from family and counsel, and improve conditions in detention centers. This bill also establishes an alternative to immigration detention which would ensure that people appear at immigration court hearings while redirecting vulnerable populations—such as pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, and asylum seekers—to community-based and cost-saving noncustodial alternatives to detention.

“The American people want commonsense solutions to our broken immigration system, so we welcome the legislation introduced yesterday which will ensure that the treatment of immigrants is aligned with America’s best values and traditions,” concluded Murguía.

For more information, visit www.nclr.org.

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