NPNA Urges Lawmakers to Include Immigrants in Access to Counsel Act
WASHINGTON – The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a leading coalition of 41 immigrant & refugee rights organizations, urges lawmakers to include immigrants as it moves forward with important legislation that protects due process and prohibits discrimination. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the NO BAN Act (H.R. 1333) and the Access to Counsel Act (H.R. 1573), both pieces of legislation that address the pressing issues of discrimination based on religion and the lack of access to counsel in secondary inspection at airports and other points of entry.
“Taken together, these bills would be a victory for our values as a nation of refuge, equality, and freedom from discrimination,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of NPNA. “But while the Access to Counsel Act provides protections to some, it excludes a group of immigrants who need access to legal representation the most – namely asylum seekers,” she added.
Access to legal counsel and funding for legal services related to immigration remains a critical issue for immigrant communities and our upholding our nation’s fundamental values of due process and justice for all.
The Access to Counsel Act would allow U.S. citizens and those with other lawful status who are in secondary inspection at airports or other points of entry to access legal counsel, allow counsel to advocate for the individual in that situation, and invalidate efforts by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to persuade people to give up their lawful status if they haven’t been given the opportunity to access counsel.
The NO BAN Act would make it more difficult for presidents to issue future bans, create Congressional oversight and accountability, and prohibit discrimination based on religion in the immigration system.