Human Rights News

Human Rights News



Sign-On Opportunity: Repeal provisions in 1996 immigration laws that criminalize immigrants and communities of color

Jun 11, 2019

The US Human Rights Network has signed-on to this important letter, calling for the repeal of many provisions in two 1996 immigration laws: the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. These laws were designed to criminalize, incarcerate, and separate families, perpetuating the criminalization of communities of color.

Please sign-on to the letter by Thursday, June 13, 2019.

View the letter and current signatories here.

Sign your organization onto the letter here.

For more background, watch this webinar here and read the Immigrant Justice Network report.

To the Honorable Nancy Pelosi and the Honorable Steny Hoyer

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer:

This year marks 23 years since President Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act into law (herein “the 1996 laws”). These laws put a chokehold on pathways to legalization and naturalization by massively expanding the number of disqualifying criminal grounds for legal permanent residents and other immigrants, and removing opportunities for individuals to seek deportation relief before a judge.

As with the widely condemned and punitive welfare “reform” and crime bills from this era, these laws relied on racialized stereotypes to create policies and laws that treat people of color as disposable and criminal until proven otherwise. These laws are the blueprint for the sweeping enforcement and deportation machine that we see in full force today.

We call on you to support legislation that begins to undo the harms of the 1996 laws by:

  • Ending immigration detention without bail;
  • Ending the automatic deportation of individuals who have had contact with the criminal legal system;
  • Ending the entanglement of local policing and immigration enforcement; and
  • Decriminalizing migration by repealing laws that make migration a crime.

An entire generation of people in this country have never experienced immigration apart from criminalization, as law enforcement and immigration enforcement functions have merged to arrest, detain, surveil, punish, and exile people of color. The abuses of these criminal legal and immigration systems have devastated our communities.

We have come together around a different vision: communities that are healthy and thriving, instead of ones torn apart by biased policing, incarceration, and deportation. We know that our community members who happen to not have been born in this country have no less dignity or value than those who were.

We seek transformational change in our criminal legal and immigration systems that will achieve this vision. One key step toward achieving this change is repealing the 1996 laws that laid the foundation for our mass immigration detention and deportation crisis. We urge members of the 116th Congress to take this critical step to protect and support immigrant communities.