As we fight the fatally flawed criminal justice system, we can't forget the immigrants criminalized by a law that turns 20 today: the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.
By Alisa Wellek, Angie Junck and Paromita Shah, ColorLines
September 30, 2016
From job applications to the voting booth, we live in a society that treats criminal convictions as a stigma that never fades.
Yes, we have seen some positive shifts in attitudes around criminal justice reform: Bill and Hillary Clinton now repudiate the “tough on crime” laws they supported (and in Bill’s case, signed) in the 1990s. The Department of Justice no longer uses the “unnecessarily disparaging” terms “felon” and “convict” to describe released prisoners. President Obama has commuted more prison sentences than the previous nine presidents combined. Politicians from both parties concede that a lot of drug sentences are way too harsh.
But as we move culturally and politically to address reform solutions, we need to ensure that the fight for justice and fairness for all really means for all. That means we need to fight for a vast population that is too often left out of proposed solutions: immigrants with convictions.[...]
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