House Holds Hearing On Unconstitutional Secure Visas Act

May 11, 2011 12:00 am

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Judicial Review Of Visa Revocation In Deportation Proceedings Must Remain Intact, Says ACLU

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WASHINGTON – The House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement today heard testimony on the Secure Visas Act. The bill (H.R.1741), introduced earlier this month by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), would unconstitutionally eliminate judicial review of executive branch decisions to revoke visas, running contrary to clear Supreme Court precedent and Congress’s own legislation enacted in 2004. A similar bill eliminating judicial review has also been introduced in the Senate.

Without judicial review, the government could abruptly revoke the visas of individuals admitted to the U.S. as permanent residents or those admitted based on their possession of valued skills – investors, physicians or engineers, for example. Upon visa revocation, those whom our government once welcomed into this country as valuable contributors would be subject to many permanent consequences including deportation, separation from U.S. citizen family members, termination of employment and severing of investment and other financial ties to the U.S. With so much at stake, it is imperative to retain judicial review for those placed in deportation proceedings on account of visa revocation to protect against mistakes or violations made by government authorities.

The Secure Visa Act’s provision to end judicial review of visa revocations would affect a much wider range of people than those whom the bill purportedly targets for national security reasons. Some visa revocations arise because of national security concerns which are based on misinformation or mistaken identity. Judicial review is imperative to protect the due process rights of people who have done nothing to warrant visa revocation and permanent deportation. Judicial review is also a check on executive authority to revoke visas in a pretextual or discriminatory manner.

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Counsel:

“Judicial review is a vital and constitutionally required safeguard to protect people from the mistakes and misinformation that may affect visa revocation hearings. Removing judicial review of visa revocation in deportation proceedings is an affront to the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and independent judicial review, as well as an unnecessary and unconstitutional reversal of Congress’s own 2004 legislation. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly opposes the Secure Visas Act, which meddles with a tried-and-true oversight mechanism required by the Constitution.”

A letter from the ACLU to the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement opposing the Secure Visas Act is available at:…

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