Human Rights First Welcomes Bill to Address Flawed Immigration Detention System
New York, NY – A bi-partisan group of Senators introduced “The Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act” (S. 3114) yesterday. The bill would address some of the most severe problems in the U.S. system for detaining asylum seekers and other immigrants. “This bill would add some long overdue safeguards to the flawed system for detaining asylum seekers,” said Eleanor Acer, Refugee Protection Director at Human Rights First. “It will also help ensure that critical standards relating to medical care and legal access are enforced.” The bill would implement some key recommendations made by the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in its March 2005 report relating to the detention of asylum seekers. “Over three years after the Commission’s report, the Department of Homeland Security has still not implemented many of its most critical recommendations,” Acer noted. “The Senators should be commended for their steadfast commitment to the fair and humane treatment of the victims of persecution and other immigrants who are detained in U.S. immigration jails.” The bill is sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Senator Chuck Hagel, (R-Neb.). The Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act includes provisions for:
- Asylum seekers and others to have their detentions promptly reviewed by an immigration judge, and to be considered for release if they pose no risk to public safety;
- Nationwide alternatives to detention programs;
- Improved detention conditions, including prompt medical care in compliance with accreditation requirements, access to legal counsel, and standards for families and for victims of persecution and torture;
- A new Office of Detention Oversight at the Department of Homeland Security to investigate detention facilities’ compliance with standards and to report to Congress; and
- The reporting and investigation of all deaths that occur in detention facilities.
Click here to read the Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act.