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Saturday, May 22, 2004

National News: Immigration bill would make it easier to deport criminal aliens

National News: Immigration bill would make it easier to deport criminal aliens

May 21, 2004 (AXcess News/SHFW) Washington DC – An Indiana representative is sponsoring legislation that will make it more difficult for immigrants convicted of crimes to delay being deported.

"Immigrants have been allowed to stay here under a broken system," said Rep. John Hostettler, R, at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday. "It's not fair that they take advantage of this country's good will."

The Fairness in Immigration Litigation Act, which is also being introduced in the Senate, will deny criminal aliens the right to file habeas corpus petitions asking federal district courts to review their deportation orders. Such petitions usually prolong the immigrant’s stay in this country.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill's chief Senate sponsor, said that, currently, aliens with criminal convictions can easily obtain review of their deportation orders by a federal district court. But illegal aliens who do not have criminal convictions have to go directly to the court of appeals after receiving an order of deportation. Under current statues, he said, criminals get more reviews and are able to delay their deportation.

"In 1995 there were 403 immigration habeas petitions filed," said Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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"In 2003, that number rose to 2,374. Clearly a legislative fix is necessary to streamline the judicial review process."

Hostettler introduced a companion bill in the House.

The bill will also address three other areas of immigration law.

It will put the burden of proof in asylum cases on the applicant. There are many cases of asylum fraud because the U.S. government has the burden of disproving claims, Hatch said.

The act will also clarify existing statutes so the U.S. government can deport illegal aliens even if their home country doesn't want them back, Hatch said.

And, because immigration is a national concern, the act will consolidate immigration review in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

Hatch made clear that the point of the bill is not to make new rules for deportation or take away any rights of aliens. It will just make the process more fair, he said.

"What we have done to this point isn't working," said the bill's co-sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "This bill is an important step in the right direction."

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