Booker, Senators Introduce Bill Targeting Family Detention, Inhumane Conditions of Immigration Detention Centers, Flawed Detention Processing System
Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would make a number of much-needed reforms to immigration detention system
June 21, 2018
“It is unacceptable that not only has the Trump administration spent weeks ripping children away from their parents, but they have also forced children and families into inhumane and shameful detention camps,” Senator Duckworth said. “Our bill will hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable and ensure immigrant and refugee families are treated humanely and no longer torn apart or indefinitely detained.”
“The United States of America is not and must never be about locking up little children in cages on the southern border,” Senator Sanders said. “This bill will provide important safeguards, preventing the Trump administration’s inhumane detention policies. Instead of throwing entire families in jail, many of whom are fleeing unspeakable violence in their own countries and seeking protection under our asylum laws, we should treat people in a way that upholds our moral values and the ideals of our laws.”
“I am disturbed that the Department of Homeland Security continues to violate the rights of families at the Southern border with almost no accountability or oversight. Congress must rein them in now,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I am proud to support this important legislation to help fix our broken immigration system and hold DHS accountable. Keeping our country safe cannot come at a cost to basic human rights. We must ensure that our immigration and border patrol agencies are never acting above the law, and we must also ensure that every family is treated with dignity by our government.”
“The Trump treatment of asylum seekers hoping for safe haven in America has been exposed as cruel and heartless. As the proud son of parents who found refuge in the United States from the Nazis, I know firsthand how immigrants and refugees strengthen our country,” Senator Wyden said. “This legislation would restore American values of decency and fair treatment to this administration’s immoral immigration policy so refugees and immigrants would once again find America to be a beacon of hope.”
“Our nation’s immigration system has been broken for far too long, and it’s breaking further under the injustices of the Trump administration,” Representative Jayapal said. “We’re saying ‘no more’ to rampant deportation forces, to cruelty and death in detention, and to privately-run detention centers that jail immigrants in order to turn a profit. With our bicameral efforts in the House and Senate, we can bring the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act into law and restore justice to this system. It is time to make real comprehensive, humane reforms to our detention system, and this bill is the right place to start.”
“The problem that we face today is twofold: our immigration system is broken, and the way Donald Trump is choosing to enforce existing immigration laws is dead wrong,” Representative Smith said. “On multiple occasions, the President has created immigration crises that unjustly target immigrant children. I introduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act to address the systemic problems in our immigration detention system. In light of the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” and the June 20, 2018 Executive Order on family detention, I am honored to have Senator Cory Booker introduce a Senate companion bill. Our legislation would put an end to the administration’s abuses of the immigration detention system and allow individuals and families to live outside of detention while they await their immigration proceedings. There is absolutely no reason for asylum seeking families to languish in detention facilities while they await the outcome of their cases. We need to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants into law to reform our immigration system and keep families together.“
Specifically, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would:
- Prevent the detention of a primary caregiver, or vulnerable populations (i.e. minors, pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of torture, etc.) unless the government can show it is unreasonable or not practicable to place them in community-based supervision.
- Establish binding civil detention standards that are at least as protective as the Civil Immigration Detention Standards adopted by the American Bar Association in 2012 (the detention standards currently in use are not binding and provide minimal protections modeled on correctional rather than civil detention systems).
- Require the DHS Office of the Inspector General to conduct unannounced inspections of all detention facilities at least once per year and to make such reports publicly available (the current system of inspections and oversight is rife with loopholes and woefully inadequate to document and remedy egregious failures. For example, facilities are given advance warning of inspections and most facilities are inspected using outdated standards).
- Negative findings would result in financial penalties for contractors and remedial measures for DHS.
- Require DHS to investigate any deaths in custody and make the resulting report publicly available (currently, DHS is not required by law release findings publically).
- Require DHS to terminate all contracts with private prisons and local jails for the purpose of detention over the course of a three-year phase-out period.
- Require DHS to obtain judicial warrants of arrest or provide detainees a probable cause hearing before an immigration judge within 48 hours of detention.
- Strike the $1,500 minimum bond amount currently in the statute and require immigration judges to consider the immigrant’s ability to pay when setting bond.
- Require DHS to render a custody determination within 48 hours of taking an immigrant into custody and grants the immigrant the right to appeal such determination before an immigration judge within 72 hours.
Earlier this month, Booker joined Senator Feinstein and 30 other Senate colleagues in introducing a bill to halt the Trump Administration policy of separating immigrant families at the border. Yesterday, he took to the Senate floor to blast the Trump policy.