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Kerry introduces Families First Immigration Enforcement Act

Press Release

Location: Boston, MA

Kerry introduces Families First Immigration Enforcement Act

Senator John Kerry today introduced the Families First Immigration Enforcement Act, a bill that would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement to use safe and humane policies and procedures when dealing with the arrest, detention and processing of anyone involved in workplace immigration enforcement operations. Senator Kerry first introduced this important legislation as an amendment to the failed comprehensive immigration bill this summer.

"While I recognize the importance of enforcing our immigration laws, it is absolutely critical that we also respect basic human dignity. Regardless of one's legal status in our country, we are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such," said Senator Kerry. "The immigration raid in New Bedford earlier this year was a stark reminder of how easily these civil liberties can fall by the wayside. That is unacceptable. When people are treated inhumanely, entire communities suffer, including children and the elderly. I strongly urge my colleagues to take a stand against these injustices and support the Families First Immigration Enforcement Act."

Kerry's 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 aliens in detention within the jurisdiction of the local ICE field office (to the extent that space is available). Previously detainees, many of them nursing 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

* allow the aliens 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 require 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 and immediate flight right, they shall be released on their own recognizance, on minimum bond or placed in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP).

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