ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

In August, the ABA House of Delegates adopted the ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards, which outline how a truly civil immigration detention system should look and operate, with the goal of offering a framework for reforming the current immigration detention system, particularly in areas of concern to the ABA. 

The Standards were developed by the ABA Commission on Immigration with the assistance of an expert Advisory Group that included a former INS Commissioner, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, and other experts from the corrections, medical, academic, and other fields.  The law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP provided pro bono assistance.

The Standards arise in part from the ABA's extensive advocacy, monitoring, and reporting on immigration detention, as well as its direct service programs with men and women in detention.  The standards call for detention as a last resort, and for using the least restrictive means necessary to ensure court appearances and, if so ordered, removal (deportation).  They recognize that the immigrant detention system is highly privatized, and place responsibility on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for upholding the standards, strictly overseeing its contract facilities, and making major decisions on classification, release, and reassignment of persons in its legal custody.  They also provide for strong external oversight by government entities, the press, and respected non-governmental organizations.

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On November 14, 2012,  the ABA Commission on Immigration and the Center for Migration Studies hosted a dialogue on the ABA’s new Civil Immigration Detention Standards at Sullivan & Worcester LLP in New York.

Featured speakers at the event included:

  • Dora B. SchriroCommissioner, New York City Department of Correction
  • Donald M. KerwinExecutive Director, Center for Migration Studies
  • Megan H. MackDirector, ABA Commission on Immigration, Moderator

ABA President-Elect James R. Silkenat offered closing remarks, and a question and answer session followed presentations.

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