American Bar Association

ABA questions immigration orders, praises lawyers who swarmed airports to help

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ABA President Linda Klein said in a statement Tuesday that the ABA is concerned the immigration-related orders issued Jan. 25 and Jan. 27 “make significant changes to our nation’s immigration policies and jeopardize fundamental principles of justice, due process and the rule of law.”

The ABA applauded the efforts of lawyers who flocked to airports where immigrants were detained. “The legal profession in the United States and the ABA are dedicated to safeguarding the rights of those in need of protection.”

The Jan. 25 order on border security and immigration enforcement calls for new detention facilities along the southwest border and requires that people be detained throughout their removal proceedings. “The ABA … opposes detention except in extraordinary circumstances, such as a threat to public safety or flight risk,” according to the statement.

That order also expands the use of “expedited removal,” through which a person can be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge. “The ABA maintains that removal decisions should be made only by impartial adjudicators, preferably immigration judges, following a formal hearing that conforms with accepted norms of due process.” The ABA also filed an amicus brief with last week urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take a case that addresses the government’s use of the expedited removal process.

The Jan. 27 order blocks entry into the United States of all refugees for 120 days, of Syrian refugees indefinitely, and of citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries for 90 days. This raises constitutional questions, the ABA statement says, acknowledging the litigation that has already been filed and anticipating more.

“This order comes at a time when we are witnessing the highest levels of refugee displacement since World War II. It seriously disrupts our nation’s immigration system and calls into question the United States as a leader in protecting the world’s refugees,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the haste of the order’s implementation has also created confusion among the very agencies assigned to implement and enforce it. The lack of clarity has added to the chaos and caused panic among affected families and communities.”

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