Today, HRW wrote to the members of the House of Representatives urging them to oppose HR 4437. The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act undermines basic due process protections, human rights obligations, and principles of fundamental fairness.
Human Rights Watch writes to urge you to vote against H.R. 4437 the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” that is scheduled to come to the floor for a vote this Thursday.
The legislation undermines basic due process protections, human rights obligations, and principles of fundamental fairness. Instead of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, H.R. 4437 is an enforcement-only approach that fails to sufficiently protect individuals in need of protection from persecution and torture, the wrongly accused, and thwarts fair and efficient consideration of the particular circumstances of individuals’ cases.
Of particular concern, the legislation would:
• Expand the expedited removal program, which has already resulted in terrible mistakes, including the wrongful removal of genuine refugees and US citizens.
• Expand the categories and types of crimes that render a non-citizen removable to include low-level offenses for which deportation is an excessive and unnecessary sanction.
• Criminalize administratively unlawful presence in the United States, including presence in violation of technical and paperwork violations of immigration laws or regulations.
• Impose mandatory detention even when the individual is not a flight risk or threat to the community.
• Allow for the indefinite detention of non-citizens who cannot be deported.
• Strip federal courts of oversight over certain removal and other immigration decisions.
• Add new mandatory minimum penalties for a number of crimes, including crimes committed by U.S. citizens. There is no justification for these additional restrictions on judges’ ability to craft sentences that fit the crime and individual circumstances.
We recognize that Congress has an important role to play in addressing the problem of illegal immigration to this country. However, H.R. 4437 is not that solution. Not only is H.R. 4437 unnecessarily punitive, but it fails to deal with a key cause of the problem: the enormous mismatch between certain United States immigration policies and the increasing demands for workers – often undocumented immigrants – to fill low-wage, service sector jobs.
We urge you to vote against this legislation that, in the name of immigration reform, violates the human rights of non-citizens and their lawfully present family members. As individuals protected under international human rights law and “persons” under the United States’ Constitution, non-citizens must not be deprived of fundamental fairness and due process of law.
Advocacy Director, U.S. Programs