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Foster Introduces Legislation to Protect Immigrant Rights

Feb 7, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced H.R. 1045, the Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act. The legislation would require immigration detention centers to inform immigrant detainees of their legal rights within five days of their arrival at the facilities. It would also require the Attorney General to develop and implement legal orientation programs in every detention center that houses immigrants. Not only would this legislation provide fundamental legal protection to vulnerable individuals, studies show it would also save taxpayer money. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), for every $2 million we invest in legal orientation programs, we save $20 million due to expedited court proceedings and better coordination of legal services.

“It is unacceptable that immigrants are placed into detention with no information about their legal rights or an understanding of how immigration courts work,” said Congressman Foster. “America has always stood for the principle of due process for all people, but our immigrant detention system isn’t meeting that standard. This legislation would not only help make sure immigrants know their rights, but it would make the entire process more efficient and fairer so that it reflects the values of our nation.”

“It happens every day; immigrants are detained without any understanding of why they’re being detained and what rights they have,” said Congressman Deutch. “How is it that our country guarantees immigrants certain rights, but then detention facilities can turn around and deny them any information of those rights? This bill will ensure immigrants are given an understanding of their rights from the moment they are detained.”

The Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act is supported by the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Heartland Alliance.

A copy of the legislation is available here.