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Congresswoman Roybal-Allard Introduces Positive Immigration Legislation

In enforcement, legislation on February 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Yesterday, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard introduced the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act of 2009 (H.R. 1215) which works to “better ensure immigrant detainees receive fair and humane treatment while in detention.”

This bill comes in response to the numerous deaths and cases of abuse in immigrant detention centers that have garnered media attention in recent months. These cases are not isolated however; in fact, over 80 people have died while in DHS detention during a five-year period beginning in 2003. A large portion of these deaths, it appears, could have been avoided if adequate and timely medical attention had been provided.

Although the federal government established immigration detention standards in 2000, these standards are not enforceable by law and not consistently implemented. The Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act seeks to correct the failure to provide safe and humane conditions by setting binding, clear, and enforceable detention standards.

In particular, the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act:

  • Improves detainees’ access to telephones and medical care, including treatment for survivors of sexual abuse
  • Improves mental health care standards, which are critical for persons who have suffered persecution, torture, or other trauma
  • Promotes alternatives to detention which enable detainees to be released on their own recognizance, bond, or other non-custodial supervision programs
  • Provides protections for unaccompanied children taken into DHS custody

While providing water and food to children who are sometimes held for 72 hours or more at the border seems like common sense, reports show that children on the border are often held in deplorable conditions.

FCNL supports this effort by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard to implement clear and binding standards for the detention of immigrants. We have joined other national, regional, and local faith-based organizations in writing a letter of support for this bill. To view the letter, click HERE.

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