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Letters to the 107th Congress

May 23, 2001

Senator Edward M. Kennedy
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Bob Graham
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators Kennedy and Graham:

I am writing on behalf of the American Bar Association to thank you for introducing the "Immigrant Fairness Restoration Act of 2001." This legislation is urgently needed to correct many defects of the 1996 immigration laws.

The sweeping changes enacted in 1996 severely eroded the legal protections long afforded to foreign-born residents. Many thousands of immigrants today are detained without bond, deported without hearings, disallowed discretionary relief, restricted in their access to counsel, and barred from appealing to the federal courts. Moreover, the law is being applied retroactively, subjecting long-term legal immigrants to deportation for offenses committed long ago. In essence, a two-tiered system of justice was established which puts many immigrants in jeopardy of permanent separation from their U.S. families for a single mistake.

The ABA strongly supports provisions of your bill that would return authority to the Attorney General to release from detention immigrants who are not safety or flight risks; repeal retroactive portions of the law that require deportation for minor offenses which predate the 1996 laws; expand the Attorney General's discretion to grant relief from deportation on a case-by-case basis; and restore the historic role of the judiciary in reviewing immigration decisions. Many of the ABA concerns that are addressed in your legislation are detailed in the attached immigration fact sheet.

As a nation of immigrants founded upon the principle of equal justice under the law, it is important to restore guarantees of fairness and due process to our nation's immigration policy. Your legislation would provide long overdue statutory reforms.

We want to thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of immigrants and refugees. We look forward to working with you to secure these necessary improvements.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Evans

107th Congress Letters Home

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

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