Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Protect Privacy And Civil Liberties, Says ACLU

October 13, 2009 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) will join with other House Democrats this afternoon to outline priorities for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The American Civil Liberties Union applauds Congress’s efforts to overhaul the broken immigration system and urges leaders in Washington to work for legislation that does not sacrifice civil liberties and personal privacy.

“The ACLU is encouraged by the willingness of congressional leaders to lay out details of immigration reform, but we strongly oppose any reforms that would unnecessarily violate the privacy of Americans,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We urge lawmakers to reject any proposed immigration reform measures that include a biometric national worker ID system or a universal compulsory electronic employment verification system. These systems come at enormous cost to the American public and do little to prevent the hiring of undocumented workers. It is unacceptable to force Americans to be fingerprinted and photographed in order to work.”

The ACLU also calls on members of Congress to reject any legislation that gives state and local authorities a role in enforcing federal civil immigration laws. 287(g) agreements between the federal government and state and local law enforcement have led to racial and ethnic profiling across the country. Such agreements undermine effective law enforcement, creating an environment of fear that discourages immigrant communities from cooperating with the police. Cities and states cannot be allowed to supersede national immigration policy by enacting their own laws targeting immigrant communities.

Immigration reform legislation must also address due process failures embodied in current immigration law. Congress should pass provisions that end prolonged detention of people who pose no risk or danger; restore discretion so immigration judges can consider U.S. citizen children and spouses when rendering deportation decisions; and repeal summary procedures that deny fair immigration hearings.

“Comprehensive immigration reform must ensure American core values of due process and equal protection under the law, affording people the right to go to the federal courts to enforce the law and the Constitution,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The power of courts to review the practices and policies governing implementation of legalization is essential to upholding fundamental rights, enforcing the Constitution, ensuring the rule of law and preventing bureaucratic abuses.”

To see the ACLU’s statement on the necessary elements of meaningful immigration reform, see:

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