October 7, 2013
In July 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a ground-breaking decision in Smith & Armendariz v. United States, Case No. 12.562 (IACHR 2010), a case brought by Gibbs Houston Pauw and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).
The decision finds that U.S. deportation policy violates human rights laws and recommends that the United States should reform its immigration laws to provide better protection for the rights of the family. The United States Congress is currently considering comprehensive immigration reform legislation, which presents an important opportunity to remind the United States government of its international obligations and advocate for the implementation of important human rights standards (the right to family unity and the best interests of children) in these legislative reforms.
Gibbs Houston Pauw, CEJIL, the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, and the Boston College Post-Deportation Human Rights Project have requested a public hearing before the IACHR to discuss the implementation of international human rights law, as set forth in Smith & Armendariz. The hearing will include, inter alia: (i) a discussion of the devastating impact “mandatory deportation” has on U.S. citizen family members when their non-citizen family members are deported; (ii) efforts that can be taken to ensure that the right to family life and the best interests of children are taken into account before a decision is made to deport someone from the United States; and (iii) ensuring that decisions are made on a case-by-case base rather than on the basis of broad general policies that subject whole classes of individuals to automatic deportation from the United States. Representatives from the United States will appear at the hearing to discuss these issues, and how the recommendations of the IACHR can be implemented.
Gibbs Houston Pauw and the other petitioners are specifically requesting that the IACHR recommend that the United States:
- encourage Immigration Judges to consider IACHR guidelines (including the rights to family unity and best interests of children) in making decisions whether to deport a non-citizen from the United States;
- incorporate the IACHR’s guidelines into the criteria used by immigration officials exercising prosecutorial discretion;
- issue a special report evaluating the impact of deportations on family life and the interests of children; and
- report the IACHR’s findings and recommendations to the U.S. Congress.
The IACHR has scheduled a hearing on these issues for October 28, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. The hearing will be held at the General Secretariat Building of the OAS, in Washington D.C., and is open to the public.