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IJN ACTION ALERT: Call or Tweet Senate Judiciary Committee to not leave many out of path to citizenship

Tell members to protect parts of the immigration reform bill that allow immigration judges and officials to look at the individual circumstances of a person’s case and fight back against attempts to exclude more immigrants from the path to citizenship

The current immigration bill falls short of overhauling our broken immigration system. The heart of the bill is clearly the pathway to citizenship, but what’s missing from the conversation is the number of individuals who will actually be barred from the path. Several amendments that will be voted on this week further exclude immigrants, both undocumented individuals and green card holders, and will leave them off the path and without a fair day in court by

  • expanding the categories of so called “aggravated felonies”, which include offenses that are neither aggravated nor felonies;
  • targeting youth and their families for any “gang related” activity which infers guilt by association and not criminal conduct;
  • leaving domestic violence survivors without any protections from deportation when reporting abuse, even if already on the path to citizenship; and
  • taking away the bill’s already limited due process protections that allow immigration judges and officials to weigh individual circumstances in some cases before ordering deportation.

Decisions about these amendments will have a tremendous impact on immigrant families, and their ability to stay together in the United States.  The SJC needs to hear from you— immigrant communities, advocates and allies— about the impact these amendments will have on our communities. 

Please call members of the SJC (below is a sample script), 

Staff will be reporting on the number of calls for and against each amendment to the Senators, so it is important to call and tweet on Monday and over the next week.

Senator Leahy:  202-224-4242

Senator Feinstein:  202-224-3841

Senator Whitehouse: 202-224-2921

Senator Klobuchar: 202-224-3244

Senator Durbin: 202-224-2152

Senator Schumer: 202-224-6542

Senator Franken: 202-224-5641

Senator Blumenthal: 202-224-2823

Senator Coons: 202-224-5042

Senator Hirono: 202-224-6361

Senator Lee:  202-224-5444

Senator Hatch: 202-224-5251

Senator Cornyn: 202-224-2934

Senator Flake:  202-224-4521

Senator Sessions: 202-224-4124

Senator Graham: (202) 224-5972

Senator Cruz: (202) 224-5922

Senator Grassley: 202-224-3744

Twitter:

On Twitter, use #CIRmarkup,  #SJC (senate judiciary committee),  #timeisnow,  #p2c (path to citizenship).You can also tweet at Judiciary Committee members: @SenatorLeahy,  @SenFeinstein, @ChuckSchumer, @SenatorDurbin, @SenWhitehouse, @amyklobuchar, @alfranken, @ChrisCoons, @SenBlumenthal, @maziehirono, @ChuckGrassley, @OrrinHatch, @SenatorSessions, @LindseyGrahamSC, @JohnCornyn, @SenMikeLee, @tedcruz, @JeffFlake

Sample Script:

“I am calling to ask Senator _   [name of senator]_ to support and protect parts of Senate Bill 744 that allow immigration judges and officials to review the individual circumstances of a person’s case to determine whether they should remain in the United States.

I also urge the Senator to oppose amendments that exclude more immigrants from the path to citizenship and deny them an opportunity to have their case considered and heard.  Specifically, I ask the Senator to OPPOSE:  Grassley #10, 21, 22, 43, 44, and 46; Cornyn #3 and 4; and Sessions #5 and 22.

Background:

In the current bill and under certain proposed amendments, a wide range of criminal convictions, no matter how old or how minor, and regardless of the fact that time was already served in the criminal justice system, would block and immigrant from gaining or keeping her legal status.   

Over the years, America’s attempts to toughen our immigration laws took away, in many cases, the ability of immigration law enforcement and judges to consider the individual circumstances of a person’s case.   An offense triggering the bars to legalization or deportation lasts forever, even if it was a mistake that occurred years ago.  Under the current Senate bill, there are only a few exceptions or waivers to overcome these bars.  The path to citizenship should allow the government to consider individual factors, such as family and community ties, the nature, seriousness, and other circumstances of the conviction, passage of time, medical conditions, and contributions to community and family.  The existence of a waiver does not mean that it will be granted. Waivers should be available in all cases to account for individual circumstances. 

Immigrants should not be treated only as the sum of their mistakes in a nation that values second chances. Immigration judges must be given back the power to grant a second chance and cancel someone’s deportation after looking at other aspects of a person’s life. Judicial discretion must be restored and expanded, and limits must be made on the number and categories of offenses that would exclude long time green card holders’ ability to maintain legal status and undocumented individuals’ eligibility to pursue the path to citizenship.

What would these amendments do?

Grassley #10: Mandates deportation, with only extremely limited exceptions, for people found ineligible for legalization. This would have a huge chilling effect on those hoping to come out of the shadows and apply for legalization. It will funnel hundreds of thousands of people into the deportation system.

Grassley #21 & 22: These amendments further take away the bill’s already limited due process protections that allow immigration judges and officials to weigh individual circumstances in some cases before ordering deportation.

Grassley #43: This amendment will exacerbate existing problems of misidentifying gang members, increase racial profiling, and result in targeting children and youth who are victims of crime and human trafficking.  This amendment incriminates individuals for mere association and membership, not actual criminal conduct.

Grassley #44: This amendment expands the heavily criticized aggravated felony definition to include strict liability and negligence offenses, upends settled Supreme Court case law on the scope of aggravated felonies, and hurts families that have conquered alcohol abuse problems and gone on to live stable and productive lives.

Grassley #46: These amendments will harm domestic violence survivors; domestic violence groups overwhelmingly reject amendments that further expand domestic violence deportation grounds.

Cornyn #3 and Sessions #22: These amendments automatically excludes from legalization, with no possibility of discretion, several single misdemeanor convictions. This amendment will have the effect of excluding victims of domestic violence, someone whose only brush with the law was a bar fight, and a person with one DUI. This amendment lacks any sense of proportionality, automatically and permanently excluding people from legalization for offenses that were often deemed punishable with only a small fine in criminal court.

Cornyn #4: In the current bill, people with old deportation orders are allowed to apply for legalization if they’re otherwise eligible. This amendment would bar individuals with old deportation orders and any criminal convictions from applying. This amendment specifically targets individuals with domestic violence convictions.

Sessions #5: This amendment would add a new crime that provides a mandatory 90 day sentence for a noncitizen who overstays a visa.

Thanks for your help!

Alisa Wellek (IDP), Angie Junck (ILRC), Paromita Shah (NIP/NLG), and Aidin Castillo (ILRC)

The Immigrant Justice Network (IJN) is a collaborative formed in 2006 between the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP), the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), and the National Immigration Project (NIP/NLG) to work towards the elimination of unjust penalties for immigrants entangled in the criminal justice system and to end the criminalization of immigrant communities. IJN members are amongst the foremost immigration advocacy and defense organizations with expertise in the intersection between the immigration and criminal justice systems. IJN accomplishes its goals through alliance building, public education, technical assistance, training, messaging, and legislative and administrative advocacy.

 

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