Date: June 10, 2013
Restoring Judicial Discretion Talking Points
- In the current bill and under certain proposed amendments, a wide range of criminal convictions, no matter how old or how minor, and regardless of the fact that time was already served in the criminal justice system, would block and immigrant from gaining or keeping her legal status.
- Over the years, America’s attempts to toughen our immigration laws took away, in many cases, the ability of immigration law enforcement and judges to consider the individual circumstances of a person’s case. An offense triggering the bars to legalization or deportation lasts forever, even if it was a mistake that occurred years ago. This sledgehammer form of justice has led to absurd results and a crisis in our immigration system.
- Under the current Senate bill, there are only a few exceptions or waivers to overcome these bars. The path to citizenship should allow the government to consider individual factors, such as family and community ties, the nature, seriousness, and other circumstances of the conviction, passage of time, medical conditions, and contributions to community and family. The existence of a waiver does not mean that it will be granted. Waivers should be available in all cases to account for individual circumstances.
- Immigrants should not be treated only as the sum of their mistakes in a nation that values second chances. Immigration judges must be given back the power to grant a second chance and cancel someone’s deportation after looking at other aspects of a person’s life. Judicial discretion must be restored and expanded, and limits must be made on the number and categories of offenses that would exclude long time green card holders’ ability to maintain legal status and undocumented individuals’ eligibility to pursue the path to citizenship.
Back to Judicial Discretion Section