House Committee Passes Unconstitutional Secure Visas Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Cynthia Bell, (202) 701-3735; media@dcaclu.org

House Committee Passes Unconstitutional Secure Visas Act

Eliminates Judicial Review of Decisions to Revoke Visas of Immigrants

WASHINGTON - The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement today passed the Secure Visas Act. The bill (H.R.1741), introduced last month by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), would unconstitutionally eliminate judicial review of executive branch decisions to revoke visas, running contrary to clear Supreme Court precedent and Congress’ own legislation enacted in 2004. A similar bill eliminating judicial review has also been introduced in the Senate.

Though the bill’s purported aim is protecting national security, the Secure Visas Act affects a much wider range of people than those who are targeted for security reasons. Without judicial review, people admitted to the U.S. as permanent residents or those with valued skills – investors, physicians or engineers, for example – could have their visas abruptly revoked by the government and face many permanent consequences including deportation, separation from U.S. citizen family members, termination of employment and severing of investment and other financial ties to the U.S. With so much at stake, it is imperative to retain judicial review for those placed in deportation proceedings on account of visa revocation to protect against mistakes or violations made by government authorities.

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, legislative counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Judicial review is imperative to protect the due process rights of people who have done nothing to warrant visa revocation and permanent deportation. Judicial review is also a check on executive authority to revoke visas in a discriminatory manner or through false, contrived or assumed pretense. Without the safeguard of a review process, people this country once welcomed onto its shores because of their talents and skills could face permanent separation from the U.S. and all they have built here. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly opposes the Secure Visas Act, which violates constitutional protections of due process for everyone in America.”

Joanne Lin is available to comment on the Secure Visas Act.

A letter from the ACLU to the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement opposing the Secure Visas Act is available at:

www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/aclu-letter-house-judiciary-committee-opposing-hr-1741-secure-visas-act-2011

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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