RMIAN applauds the President's decision to help millions through the administrative relief program, but urges him not to forget the most vulnerable.
President Obama's November 20th announcement of his executive action is a huge victory for millions of people who came to this country in search of a better life, and now no longer have to fear deportation and separation from their families, communities, and lives. This announcement is an important first step in affirming our country's commitment to protecting the values of family, inclusiveness, and unity.
RMIAN has played an essential role in providing legal services for youth eligible for the previously implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in Colorado, and witnessed first-hand the transformational impact this program had on families and youth. Expanding this program would only further benefit our communities, our state, and our country.
However, as a legal services organization serving individuals in immigration detention and immigrant children, RMIAN is gravely concerned about those people left out of today's executive action and urges President Obama and Congress to do more.
Unfortunately, this executive action does nothing to protect the recently arriving unaccompanied children and families who are fleeing persecution, horrific abuse, and other violence in their home countries, only to face detention and expedited removal proceedings without basic due process protections. Unaccompanied children as young as three or four years old who have made perilous journeys to the United States for their safety and security still must face deportation proceedings without the guarantee of an attorney to protect their basic rights.
Similarly, individuals in immigration detention, many of whom include asylum-seekers and refugees, must face the heart-wrenching decision of remaining in detention in order to fight their removal cases, without any right to government-appointed counsel in complicated and challenging immigration proceedings.
One of RMIAN's clients recently spent over six months in immigration detention while he was fighting his asylum case. With the help of an attorney, he won his case, but the majority of men and women in detention are forced to represent themselves, at a severe disadvantage, in proceedings with life and death stakes.
RMIAN's work will continue to focus on providing immigration legal services to the most marginalized populations in Colorado; those individuals in immigration detention and those children in Colorado who cannot afford an attorney and who otherwise would be forced to navigate a hostile and complicated immigration system entirely on their own.
RMIAN will be working to ensure that the populations we serve receive accurate information about the new program and eligibility criteria. We urge individuals to work with reputable and established legal service providers.
We urge President Obama and Congress to enact further protections for detained immigrants and children to protect their basic rights under the U.S. legal system.
The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) works to ensure justice for men and women in immigration detention and for immigrant children who have suffered from abuse, neglect, or violence.
RMIAN is a nonprofit organization that serves low-income men, women, and children in immigration proceedings. RMIAN promotes knowledge of legal rights, provides effective representation to ensure due process, works to improve detention conditions, and promotes a more humane immigration system, including alternatives to detention.
We believe that justice for immigrants means justice for all. We respect the needs and celebrate the contributions of the individuals and communities that we serve. We beleive our clients are equal partners in accessing justice. We value respect for all human beings, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or legal status. We believe in valuing and respecting the contributions of our board, staff, and volunteers. We believe in a working environment that fosters personal and professional growth and strives for excellence.
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