WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmembers Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04) introduced the Family Unity Act to protect immigrant families by ensuring due process in certain immigration removal proceedings. The bill would make a technical fix to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to bring the law in line with the Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling in Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in 2000. While a nearly unanimous bipartisan majority of the Court ruled in favor of ensuring due process for immigrants facing deportation, confusion in the lower courts and ICE’s pursuit of policies that ignore the ruling has made this legislation necessary.
“Our immigration system is broken and the fact that we have federal agencies ignoring settled case law is indictive of needed change,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “The unjustified, expansive interpretation of this INA section that has provided ICE with the ability to rip immigrant families apart without due process. This has put faith-institutions in the predicament of being accused of harboring fugitives when they are just providing shelters to families who want a better life in the United States. I’m thankful for Reps. Grijalva and Johnson’s leadership and partnership on this bill.”
Unlike many similar immigration statutes, INA Section 1252(g) does not specify the scope of judicial review of certain removal proceedings effected by the section. Shortly after the statute’s inception, the Supreme Court was asked to interpret the scope language in this section. In its ruling the Court rejected an expansive interpretation of the phrase, underscoring that the language “arising from” should be interpreted narrowly.
“Families deserve to stay together,” said Congressman Grijalva. “The Family Unity Act will provide an important clarification to immigration law and provide clarification for our court system and ensure due process. I am proud to-co-lead this effort to ensure families remain together.”
“As a nation founded on the principles of humanity, kindness, and dignity towards all human life, we should be doing everything in our power to keep immigrant families together — not tear them apart,” said Congressman Johnson. “Our nation was founded as a refuge to the tired, the poor and the huddled masses who simply yearned to breathe freedom. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Family Unity Act with leaders like Reps. Tlaib and Grijalva, so we can provide due process to families facing deportation and ultimately separation from their loved ones.”
“1252(g), in its current form, has harmed countless immigrants in jurisdictions where the law has been deemed tantamount to absolute immunity for even the most abusive actions taken by ICE,” said ACLU of Louisiana Legal Director Nora Ahmed, who filed a petition for a writ of certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the proper scope of the law before settling the case with DOJ. “ICE declared our client, Mr. R., a fugitive for seeking sanctuary in a Church—when, in fact, he told ICE where he was and his reason for seeking sanctuary: to care for his severely disabled wife with advanced multiple sclerosis as he awaited the agency’s decision on his formal request to stay in the country. But the courts concluded that 1252(g) stripped them of the power to weigh in on Mr. R.’s plight. This bill has the capacity to ensure appropriate judicial review of ICE misconduct and to stop further violations of separation of powers principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”
The bill is endorsed by the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, One Michigan, the Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Rapid Defense Network (RDN).
“ICE officers make life and death decisions every day – it’s only fair that people whose lives are at stake have the chance to ask federal judges to review those decisions and step in to prevent injustice,” said Christine Suave of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.
The text of the bill can be viewed here.