ACLU Statement On Proposed Immigration Bill Introduced In Senate On September 29, 2010

October 1, 2010 12:00 am

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On September 29, 2010, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 3932, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) Act of 2010, legislation that proposes sweeping changes to America’s immigration system.

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomes several important civil liberties related provisions in the bill, especially those that will improve due process protection for immigrants. At the same time, the ACLU is deeply concerned about other provisions in the bill, including an e-verify mandate and some increased enforcement measures that would have a detrimental impact on the civil liberties and civil rights of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.

S. 3932 would mandate that every employer enroll in e-verify, an invasive electronic employment verification system that relies on error-filled government databases to confirm work authorization for every worker, including U.S. citizens. Errors in electronic employment verification violate Americans’ privacy rights, pose significant barriers to lawful employment, harm innocent U.S. workers and cost U.S. employers and society billions. While this bill avoids taking the harmful step of mandating a biometric national ID card, the ACLU has long opposed any legislative proposal that would impose a mandatory electronic employment eligibility verification pre-screening system of any kind, biometric or otherwise, on the U.S. workforce. Americans should not be expected to trade away their privacy rights as payment for immigration reform.

S. 3932 includes important provisions that reinforce existing law prohibiting states and localities from creating their own immigration laws and engaging in unauthorized immigration enforcement. However, it unfortunately leaves intact the 287(g) program run by Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), which delegates certain federal immigration enforcement power to designated state and local police. Earlier this year, the DHS Office of Inspector General issued a scathing report of the 287(g) program, recommending 33 critical reforms to be implemented. ICE has failed to implement the vast majority of those recommendations and instead has expanded the 287(g) program to 70 jurisdictions. The ACLU believes that for any immigration reform plan to be comprehensive and effective, the federal government must be the sole enforcer of our immigration laws, and that Congress must terminate the 287(g) program.

Due Process Protection
The ACLU supports sections of the bill that would improve due process and human rights protections, including provisions that would:

  • Permit the Attorney General to appoint counsel to represent individuals in immigration court proceedings;
  • Provide for enhanced training for border patrol agents on constitutional law and civil rights, as well as higher standards on short-term detention conditions;
  • Require ICE to issue guidelines for ensuring compliance with all detention requirements;
  • Ensure prompt and adequate medical care for immigration detainees;
  • Ensure humane standards for immigration detainees against isolated confinement, strip searches, sexual assault, and shackling;
  • Prohibit use of involuntary psychotropic medication on immigration detainees, with limited exceptions;
  • Bar transfer of immigration detainees if such transfer would inhibit access to legal counsel, or detainees’ health or legal rights;
  • Establish a strong presumption against detention of families with children;
  • Clarify evidentiary requirements for issuing immigration detainers to require objective evidence that an individual is subject to deportation;
  • Require timely notice and service of immigration charges as well as timely bond hearings for people detained more than 48 hours; and
  • Provide judicial review for applicants denied lawful prospective immigrant status.

Other provisions
The CIR Act of 2010 includes the DREAM Act, which ensures that states retain the option, without encumbrance, to grant all resident students, regardless of immigration status, in-state tuition. The bill also provides parity for gay U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their permanent partners for permanent resident status, a right long enjoyed by heterosexual spouses. The ACLU supports these provisions which would help to promote fundamental fairness.

The full text of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 is available at:

The ACLU’s statement on the necessary elements of meaningful immigration reform is available at:

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