The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Preserve Fair Hearings: Oppose Grassley Amendments #21 & #22

Advocacy Letter - 05/21/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Grassley, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more  than 200 national advocacy organizations, we urge you to oppose Senator Grassley’s  amendments #21 and #22 to S. 744. These amendments would, respectively, strike Section  2313 in its entirety, or further limit this already very narrow but important provision  allowing immigration judges to keep families together.  

Section 2313 provides limited discretionary authority to immigration judges and officers to  terminate removal proceedings, or waive a ground of inadmissibility or deportability, in  order to avoid hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) parent, spouse,  or child, or if the judge determines the alien is eligible for naturalization. This humanitarian  waiver is not automatic, and is not available to anyone who either represents a security threat or has a wide range of serious or minor criminal offenses. It requires the alien to demonstrate  they are eligible, and to show that they deserve a second chance for the sake of their families.

If Section 2313 is struck, as Grassley amendment #21 would do, many people who have  lived here for years and have U.S. citizen or LPR family members would be barred from the  U.S. because of old and minor crimes. Grassley amendment #22, on the other hand, would  leave Section 2313 intact, but it would further erode what is already a very narrow basis for eligibility. Section 2313 is already barred to immigrants with “aggravated felonies” (including offenses that are neither aggravated nor felonies), drug trafficking, human  trafficking, unlawful voting, money laundering, international child abduction, and  prostitution rings, as well as the criminal street gang inadmissibility ground. Grassley amendment #22 would expand this list to include, among other things, the criminal street gang deportability ground and the inadmissibility ground for three DUI offenses.

Either amendment would prevent immigration enforcement officers and immigration judges from doing their job: using their best judgment to carefully make tough decisions that will have serious consequences on the lives of immigrants and their families. Our current immigration system already ties decision makers’ hands all too often, and it has produced countless unfair or even absurd results for immigrants facing deportation – regardless of how long they have lived here and how strong their family and community ties have become.

Our opposition to Grassley amendments #21 and #22 does not mean that we condone or minimize any criminal offense. If someone poses a danger to public safety, he or she should not receive discretionary relief. Yet history has been replete with abuses and overreaching in our nation’s criminal justice system,  and it should be abundantly clear by now that a “one size fits all” or “mandatory” approach to criminal justice matters is all but certain to produce inhumane results. Indeed, Congress wisely recognized this  several years ago when it enacted the “Fair Sentencing Act of 2010,” with the strong bipartisan leadership  of this Committee.

For these reasons, we urge you to oppose Grassley amendments #21 and #22. If you have any questions,  please contact Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel, at (202) 466-6058 or randhava@civilrights.org.


Wade Henderson, President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President

Our Members