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9/19: Analysis of H.R. 6089, H.R. 6090 and H.R. 6091
Released 19 September 2006  By Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

September 19, 2006

The House Republican leadership is at it again. Unwilling to fix our broken immigration system, they instead are focusing on moving through the House of Representatives several measures that will only lead to more dysfunction. These measures will not cure what is wrong with our immigration system. Far from it!

The American public supports comprehensive immigration reform. Such reform would bring families together, create a legal pathway for people to come to the United States in the future, give U.S. employers the workers they need, and help secure our nation.

What is House Republican leadership offering us instead? Failed solutions that will only perpetuate a broken system. These bills, with their titles changed to accurately reflect what they really would do, offer still more examples of this failed approach. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on these measures this week.

H.R. 6089: The Unsafe Streets and Government Unfettered Authority Act
Despite the opposition of state and local police nationwide, HR 6089 would encourage state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain and transfer to Federal custody immigrants they find in the U.S. State and local police oppose this measure because they know that if they act as immigration enforcement agents they would undermine their ability to keep communities safe and, in the process, destroy years of community policing. Immigrants and their family members will be afraid to report crimes, fires, and suspicious activity out of fear of exposing themselves, families or neighbors. Crimes inevitably will be left unsolved and the safety of entire communities will be compromised.

H.R. 6089 also would give immigration authorities nearly unfettered authority to indefinitely detain immigrants, thereby posing serious constitutional concerns. The indefinite detention provision sidesteps two Supreme Court cases and actually fashions through legislation a means by which DHS could continue to indefinitely detain certain aliens. The provision would subject many more people to indefinite detention including asylum seekers fleeing persecution. Legislation is not needed on this issue: DHS should follow the humane process laid out by the Supreme Court which sets up a 90 day review process for individuals who cannot be removed to their home country. Over 1000 individuals are subjected to indefinite detention at the present time. In some cases, it is not possible for the government to deport these individuals because the U.S. does not maintain diplomatic relations with country of origin. Detaining people indefinitely, with no end in sight, will cost the government millions of dollars at taxpayer expense. Instead of detaining these individuals, Congress could use secure alternatives to detention programs that are more cost effective and humane.

HR 6090: The Anti Right to Association and Government Unaccountability Act
Under H.R. 6090, immigrants who have never committed any crimes whatsoever and who have obeyed all of our laws can be deported, denied admission and the ability to obtain lawful status, subjected to mandatory detention, and denied all forms of protection such as asylum and temporary protected status, simply because the Attorney General has determined through a secret process that they are associated with a street gang. Through this secret process, the Attorney General, does not have to provide notice or an opportunity to be heard to those designated, and can designate any formal or informal group of three or more persons who have committed two or more enumerated gang crimes a 'criminal street gang.' As a result of this designation, many immigrants who never committed or supported a single criminal act (but are designated to have associated with this 'gang') may be punished severely for exercising their right to association: they may be deported to a country where they face interrogation, torture, detention and even death.

H.R. 6090 also changes the rules for immigration cases in federal court so that immigrants will have a harder time getting relief. HR 6090 would make it easier for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue violating the law in any immigration case even after the agency has lost in court. Plaintiffs in immigration cases will find it difficult to force DHS to obey the law even after they have proven in court that they have been wronged by the DHS. This bill also would not allow judges to grant relief in all immigration cases unless they attach a written explanation of the impact of granting the pardon. Finally, it would impose overly short time limits on courts attempting to grant pardons to immigrants, regardless of the complexity of the case.

HR 6091: Government Unchecked Power Act
HR 6091 includes a provision that would allow the Administration to remove people from inside the United States without a court hearing, after a low-level agency official makes certain findings. It eliminates judicial hearings for immigrants, including legal permanent residents, who are found inadmissible and who are not eligible for any relief. Such expedited removal authority would allow a DHS officer, instead of a trained immigration judge, to make complicated legal determinations about whether a person is subject to removal and/or is a citizen. Such authority would lead to the increased risk of improper or mistaken deportations of non-citizens and even U.S. citizens: the expedited procedures are insufficient to determine who is a citizen of the United States. Expedited removal would endanger asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and domestic violence, and children because under these summary procedures there will be many incorrect determinations and people will be sent back to countries where they face persecution.

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