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Introduction of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010

The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for introducing S. 3932, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010.  Among its many strong provisions, this legislation would prevent the separation of children from their parents, improve conditions of care for individuals in immigration custody—including children held at the US/Mexico border—and reduce the unnecessary use of detention for asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants, including families.

The Women’s Refugee Commission has a long history of advocating for the protection of immigrant women, children and families.  Through fact-finding missions to detention facilities across the country we have seen the faces of our broken immigration system:  families who languish in detention for years while they await a decision in their asylum case; children who cross unlawfully into the United States looking for protection or hoping to join their parents, but who all too often end up alone and afraid in a shelter far from home; victims of domestic violence who are too afraid to report their abuser to police; mothers who risk losing custody of their children, but who cannot defend their parental rights because they are detained.

For the past year, the Department of Homeland Security has been taking steps to fix our broken detention system.  Progress, while slow, has been significant.  But the agency cannot fix our immigration problems alone.  Congress must act now to reform our immigration laws so that children no longer have to be separated from their parents, victims of violence no longer have to fear the police and vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers can access protection on our shores.

This legislation is a critical step forward in affirming the U.S.’s  commitment to sensible and fair immigration policies, and it comes at a time when reforming our immigration laws is more crucial than ever.

We look forward to working with Senator Menendez and Senator Leahy to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010, and urge other members of Congress to stand with them in promoting smart, sensible solutions that respect human dignity and human rights.