Rep. Solis Introduces Bill to Require Safe, Humane Policies during Immigration Enforcement Operations
Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA) introduced the Families First Immigration Enforcement Act, legislation that would require Immigration and Custom Enforcement to use humane policies and procedures when dealing with the arrest, detention and processing of anyone involved in workplace immigration enforcement operations.
"While it is important that our nation's immigration laws be enforced, enforcement must be done in a way which is humane and protects the children involved. Unfortunately, raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency have resulted in children being left without adult care, unnecessarily risking their safety and well-being," said Congresswoman Solis. The Families First Act recognizes that with proper planning and foresight, immigration laws can be enforced in a way that respects human dignity and protects children involved."
The Senate companion bill was recently introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).
"We all agree that our immigration laws must be enforced, but the Families First Act makes it crystal clear that we must respect basic human dignity even as we enforce the law," said Kerry. "A hasty and tragic immigration raid earlier this year in New Bedford, Massachusetts reminded me just how easily human rights can fall by the wayside with poor planning and reckless implementation. I m glad that Representative Solis and I are standing up for common sense and against injustice in offering our Families First Immigration Enforcement Act."
The legislation would require Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to:
* afford access to state social service agencies to screen and interview detainees. A majority of the problems in raids across the country arose from the fact that people were too scared or intimidated to provide information to ICE agents. Social service agencies are better equipped to handle child and family needs;
* give sufficient notice to these state agencies so they can arrange for representatives who speak the detainees' first language fluently and for any other services that may be needed;
* place undocumented immigrants in detention within the jurisdiction of the local ICE field office (to the extent that space is available). Previously detainees, many of them mothers, have been shipped off to facilities hundreds of miles away from their families to await a determination of their status;
* provide a toll free number for families to use after a raid, to report their relationship to a detainee or for more information about the status of their loved one; and
* allows undocumented immigrants access to legal orientation presentations provided by independent, non-governmental agencies through the Legal Orientation program (in cases of raids with the apprehension of 50 or more). This program cuts down on confusion and allows the detainees to fully appreciate their rights.
In addition, if a detainee has humanitarian grounds for release, such as a medical condition that requires special attention, or pregnant women, nursing mothers, parents who are the sole caretakers of their minor children or elderly relatives, parents who function as the primary contact between the family and those outside the home due to language barriers, parents who are needed to support their spouses in caring for sick or special needs children, parents whose spouses are ill or otherwise unable to be sole caretaker, and minors, within 72 hours of their apprehension, if they are not subject to mandatory detention, or pose an immediate flight risk, they shall be released on their own recognizance, on minimum bond or placed in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP).