#Fix96: End the Mass Criminalization of Immigrants

We all acknowledge that our immigration system has many challenges. But what often gets left out of the conversation is that much of this dysfunction can be traced to a pair of immigration laws passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).

These laws are directly responsible for expanding incarceration of immigrants, creating a fast track for deportations without due process, setting the foundation for local police and ICE collaborations and making legal immigration much more difficult. We believe that immigration reform is incomplete without a reform of these 1996 laws.

The Immigrant Justice Network is excited to announce our campaign to roll back the excesses of these laws.

It’s long past time to #Fix96.

NEW: Congressional Briefing on the Legacy of the 1996 Immigration Laws (June 24, 2016)

On Friday, June 24, our friends and allies at the Southeast Asia Resource Action center hosted a congressional briefing on the legacy of the 1996 immigration laws. The panel, moderated by SEARAC Executive Director Quyen Dinh, included Join Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3) and four impacted advocates who are fighting deportation because of unjust 20-year-old immigration laws. Audio of the event is available here.

In Their Words: Organizations On Why It’s Time to #FIX96

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be asking partners and allies across a range of issues and communities to detail the impact of the 1996 immigration laws on their memberships and constituencies, and describe what needs to change.

So far, we’ve heard from Families for Freedom (FFF) and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) and Detention Watch Network (DWN). Next week: the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Stay tuned!


Families for Freedom

Founded in 2002, Families for Freedom is a New York-based multi-ethnic human rights organization by and for families facing and fighting deportation.


Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

SEARAC is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society.


Detention Watch Network (DWN)

DWN is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

Congressional Resolution Calls for Reforms to the 1996 Laws

Grijalva Resolution

Click to read


IJN is happy to have worked with Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, over 30 other members of Congress and 84 advocacy groups across the nation to introduce a resolution in Congress calling for crucial reforms to the 1996 immigration laws, from restoring due process for immigrants and reinstating discretion for immigration judges to ending local police & ICE collaboration and narrowing aggravated felonies, amongst other provisions.

Click on image at left to read the full resolution. Click here for CPC press release; and here for IJN press release.

Partners, Allies & News on #FIX96

A diverse coalition of lawmakers, advocates, government officials and members of the immigrant community are all calling to #FIX96.

      • Cities for Action, an advocacy coalition of mayors from across the nation, released a statement in support of Rep. Grijalva’s resolution, stating “it is long overdue for our lawmakers to repair these immigration policies with fairness and justice.”
      • Human Rights Watch published a piece on “20 Years of Immigrant Abuses” this week, adding their voice to the chorus calling for a reform of the 1996 laws.
      • The Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Families for Freedom, 1LoveMovement and the Immigrant Defense Project also released a call to action this week, highlighting how black immigrant families and communities in particular are being torn about as a result of these laws.
      • The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center released a statement in support of the resolution, noting that “since the passage of these laws, at least 15,000 Southeast Asian Americans from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have received final orders of removal, even though most of them arrived in the United States as refugees and obtained green cards.”
      • Vox.com journalist Dara Lind wrote a comprehensive piece on the background and today’s consequences of the 1996 immigration laws, and highlighted the Congressional resolution.

As you can see, this is a topic on the minds of many, most of all the countless immigrants and their families who have to bear the brunt of the impact of these laws still two decades later.

Media Coverage

#FIX96: Voices From Around the Nation

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: Join the #FIX96 Photo Campaign

Do you support immigrants? Stand in solidarity by showing why it’s important to #FIX96!

      1. Click the image below to download a template of your choosing.
      2. Fill out your message – it can be your name, the organization you represent, or a custom message
      3. Take a picture of yourself holding up your message (or even better, grab a friend and stand in solidarity together!).
      4. Use any of the sample tweets below to share your picture with the world. Be sure to use #FIX96 so we can find it & add your support to the collective.

Thanks for your support!

Sample Tweets:

I believe it’s time to stop criminalizing immigrants! You too? Join me: bit.ly/fix96 #FIX96

I believe it’s time to stop deportations! You too? Join me: bit.ly/fix96 #FIX96

I believe it’s time to end mandatory detention! You too? Join me: bit.ly/fix96 #FIX96

I believe all immigrants deserve due process! You too? Join me: bit.ly/fix96 #FIX96

I believe all immigrants deserve dignity! You too? Join me: bit.ly/fix96 #FIX96

I believe all immigrants deserve human rights! You too? Join me: bit.ly/fix96 #FIX96



Ending Mass Criminalization- A Vision

Click for more detail

The Immigrant Justice Network envisions communities that are healthy and thriving, instead of ones torn apart by unfair and discriminatory policing, incarceration, and deportation.

To secure the full human rights of all members of our communities, we need to end mass deportation and mass incarceration while addressing the racial, economic, and legal injustices that underlie both. The US government needs to invest in people and not more law enforcement. It should uplift communities, not maintain the laws that tear them apart.

IJN believes that people should not be detained and deported without a fair day in court, and especially not on the basis of crimes for which they have already been punished for. Partnerships with community groups and directly impacted individuals who have navigated or survived the detention, deportation, and criminal justice systems are essential to achieving this vision. These partnerships have the best chance of building long-lasting power for transformational change of our criminal and immigration systems.


      1. Expose and challenge the selective and discriminatory policing, prosecution, sentencing, and deportation of black and brown community members.
      2. Narrow the list of aggravated felonies, a category of hundreds of offenses triggering automatic deportation.
      3. Restore a fair day in court and end fast track deportations
      4. Limit the authority of the federal government to deport immigrants for long ago conduct.
      5. Eliminate the use of the mandatory detention laws, and end nationwide the practice of prolonged detention.
      6. Ensure that immigrants have equal access to justice in the criminal system
      7. End mass deportation programs
      8. Protect the privacy and rights of immigrants

TAKE ACTION: Help Get Candidates On The Record

Where do the presidential candidates stand on ending mass criminalization and deportation? Use this resource to help us get them on the record.