The Immigration and Nationality Law Committee sent two letters to congress concerning the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). The first letter focused on the right to counsel aspects in the bill, expressing support for the bill as a strong and serious step forward as it contemplates the right to free counsel for certain particularly vulnerable groups. However, the letter urged that the bill be expanded to include universal representation for indigent immigrant detainees, including those facing deportation proceedings, and made further recommendations. The second letter focused on the steps the legislation takes to reduce the Department of Homeland Security’s over-detention of non-citizens and offers additional steps Congress can take to further reduce detention and ensure due process.
In a joint letter to the New York City Council, the Committees on Criminal Courts, Civil Rights, Corrections and Community Reentry, Domestic Violence, and Immigration and Nationality Law expressed support for the Council’s efforts to strengthen current limitations on the City’s collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) with respect to the holding of immigrant New Yorkers subject to ICE detainers. Though the letter acknowledges that much has been done by the City to address the problems caused by ICE detainers, more needs to be done through City Council legislation to reduce the harm these detainers inflict on the City and its immigrant community while not posing legal impediments to ICE’s power to place any individual in removal proceedings. ICE detainers, the letter notes, still undermine basic principles of fairness and due process, erode community trust and raise concerns of racial profiling, interfere with the criminal justice system, endanger New York’s immigrant community, and cost the City millions of unreimbursed dollars every year, as individuals are held in city jails for an average of 73 days longer when detainers are issued.
International Violence Against Women Act
In a letter to New York congressional representatives, the Committees on African Affairs, Domestic Violence, and Sex and Law urged them to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) pending in the House. The legislation is designed to prevent and respond to the widespread and egregious violence against girls and women that afflicts communities and countries across the globe, including domestic violence, rape, acid burnings, so-called honor killings, forced marriage, and other gross violations of human rights. Among its provisions, the bill would create a new office in the State Department to address these issues, including an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and would provide mechanisms to target funding and otherwise take into account the efforts of nations receiving U.S. aid to stem gender violence. [The City Bar recently lobbied New York's Congressional representatives to re-introduce I-VAWA in the current legislative session.]