Conyers: Limited Government Party Turns Out to Be a Party of the Unlimited
(Washington) – Today, at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 1932, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) criticized the bill as a massive, unconstitutional expansion of the government’s ability to detain immigrants for many years—even indefinitely—with little or no procedural protections at all.
“It is ironic that this bill comes from the Judiciary Committee leadership that should be protecting the Constitution and from the party that prides itself on limited government and the protection of individual liberty,” Conyers said. “The Republican Party’s Pledge to America was all about ensuring limited government and fiscal responsibility. Tea Party Patriots lists ‘Constitutionally Limited Government’ as a core value. And TeaParty.Org says its ‘non-negotiable core beliefs’ include: ‘Intrusive Government Stopped’ and ‘Government Must Be Downsized.’
“Under this bill, thousands of immigration detainees would become subject to mandatory detention—with no opportunity for a bond hearing—even if they pose no risk to the public and no risk of flight.
“Ten years after the Supreme Court cautioned that the Constitution would permit extended detention of immigration detainees only in very narrow circumstances accompanied by strong procedural protections, H.R. 1932 allows immigration detainees to be held indefinitely simply by the stroke of the pen of the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“The writ of habeas corpus is a fundamental guarantee of the Constitution. If H.R. 1932 becomes law, all habeas corpus petitions challenging the legality of mandatory, prolonged, and indefinite immigration detention would have to be filed in the District Court of the District of Columbia. The only possible explanation for doing that would be to make it harder for a person who may not speak English, almost always has no lawyer, and is being detained in Arizona or Texas to get into court.
“We need to make sure that our detention and removal system works, so that we are holding the right people, under the right conditions, and for the right reasons. And that we remove people from this country when they have gone through the process and received a final decision in their case. But this bill will not advance any of those goals. Instead, it will just increase our already enormous and expensive detention system and will remove or limit the few meaningful checks that still exist.”