Kerry pitches softer approach to immigration raids - On Congress: Kerry pitches softer approach to immigration raids
September 14, 2010
As Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano led a naturalization ceremony for more than 5,000 new Americans at Fenway Park, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Tuesday pitched a bill requiring federal authorities to take a more "humane” approach when enforcing immigration laws.
The "Families First Immigration Enforcement Act of 2010” calls for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to give state agencies advanced notice before an immigration raid so they can provide translators for the detainees.
The Kerry bill would also require ICE to check detainees to see if any should be released on the grounds that they are too sick, too old, pregnant or nursing, or fall under other vulnerable groups.
A third provision of the bill requires illegal immigrants to be detained near their local ICE office – space permitting – to prevent them from being sent hundreds of miles away from their families.
Kerry said ICE raids across the country, including a 2007 raid in his home state of Massachusetts where 360 workers were detained, triggered reports of detainee mistreatment, families being broken apart, and social and legal services being unavailable.
"This bill represents the humane approach needed to allow ICE to enforce the law without inflicting undue pain and suffering,” Kerry said in a statement Tuesday. "I've heard way too many stories about detainees being denied medical care, or access to a dependent child, elderly parent, or translator. There is no excuse for violations of basic human rights.
"Every person should be treated with common decency while we continue the fight for comprehensive immigration reform,” he added.
At Boston’s Fenway Park, Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas joined 5,200 new citizens from nearly 150 countries in celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
"I am proud to welcome these men and women who have come from all over the world to become the newest citizens of our nation,” Napolitano said in a statement. "Our social, economic, and civic vitality needs the contributions, the perspectives, and the experiences of all Americans—including our newest Americans.”