Jordyn Rozensky, 773.502.7906, JRozensky@heartlandalliance.org
85 Organizations Request Meeting to Discuss Proposal to Establish a Centralized Process to Facilitate the Return of Deported Individuals
Washington D.C. (June 9, 2021) -- The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), We Are Home campaign, and 85 civil rights organizations and law school clinics sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the administration to facilitate and expedite the return of unjustly deported individuals.
The letter calls on Secretary Mayorkas to honor family unity and redress racial injustice of past immigration policies by ensuring individuals who were unjustly deported have a meaningful chance to return to their homes, families, and communities in the United States. The organizations remind the administration that for decades the U.S. government has enforced civil immigration laws aggressively, “initiating removal, detaining immigrants, and conducting deportation proceedings that lack even minimal procedural safeguards against the entry of erroneous or unlawful deportation orders.”
A recent NIJC white paper, A Chance to Come Home, offers a proposal for a centralized process to review past deportations. Just as criminal prosecution offices around the country have recently developed independent units within their offices to review unjust prosecutorial decisions, Secretary Mayorkas should establish an independent office within DHS to revisit some past deportations.
“The current mechanisms for unjustly deported individuals to seek return are slow, inefficient, and rarely result in justice. The administration can use its authority and existing laws to offer a meaningful chance for some unjustly deported individuals to reunite with their families and communities now, and it can do so without overburdening the immigration system. Black and Brown immigrant communities who have borne the brunt of harsh immigration enforcement deserve this basic due process,” said Nayna Gupta, NIJC associate director of policy and author of the NIJC white paper.
The letter highlights the stories of unjustly deported individuals, including U.S. veterans who served their country only to find themselves exiled, youth who were deported despite being eligible for protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and community members who were deported as a second punishment for a criminal conviction despite having strong legal grounds for remaining in the United States.
“The We Are Home campaign is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational coalition that has come together to call on the Biden Administration and Congress to protect the millions of immigrant families that call the US home and undo the damage of the last four years. Our work includes fighting to reunite families torn apart by a cruel and unjust immigration system. Separated families cannot wait - those who were unjustly deported must have a chance to come home. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration in support of immigrant family reunification,” said Sonia Lin, executive strategy director of the We Are Home Campaign.
NIJC and the We Are Home campaign delivered the letter along with an invitation to Secretary Mayorkas, asking him to join a meeting with unjustly deported individuals and advocates to discuss their proposal further.