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As 5000 New Americans Earn Citizenship in Fenway Park, Kerry Proposes Immigration Law to Protect Children, Families

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to ensure the country's immigration laws are enforced humanely. Recent raids across the country by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including the 2007 raid in Massachusetts where 361 workers were detained in New Bedford, have led to reports of detainee mistreatment, family separation, and social and legal services being unavailable.

Kerry introduced his Families First Immigration Enforcement Act of 2010 as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano conducted a naturalization ceremony today for 5000 new Americans in Fenway Park.

"I want to congratulate all of our new American citizens today -- it's a big deal and they have a lot to be proud of. Unfortunately, many deserving families still suffer under our broken immigration system, which is why I've introduced the Families First Act. This bill represents the humane approach needed to allow ICE to enforce the law without inflicting undue pain and suffering," said Sen. Kerry. "I've heard way too many stories about detainees being denied medical care, or access to a dependent child, elderly parent, or translator. There is no excuse for violations of basic human rights. Every person should be treated with common decency while we continue the fight for comprehensive immigration reform."

The Families First Immigration Enforcement Act of 2010 will:

* require ICE to give state agencies advance notice to enable them to provide someone at the raid site who speaks the same language as the detainees;

* require ICE to afford access to state social service agencies to screen and interview detainees;

* require aliens to be detained within the jurisdiction of their local ICE field office as space is available in order to prevent detainees, many of them parents, from being sent to facilities hundreds of miles away from their families to await a determination of their status;

* require service agencies to screen detainees to determine if there are humanitarian grounds for release for the sick, the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, for parents who are the sole caretakers of children or elderly relatives, and for other groups especially vulnerable to the consequences of a raid; AND

* require ICE 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.

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