Briefing – Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Restoring Discretion and Fairness to the Immigration System

Children of Immigrants

10:00 am - 11:00 am

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Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Lawyers Association, First Focus, The Leadership Conference, National Immigration Law Center, Rights Working Group, and Women’s Refugee Commission.

The 1996 immigration laws stripped discretion from immigration judges and immigration adjudicators, thereby removing their ability to make individualized decisions based on facts and circumstances in individual cases. Harsh categorical laws have resulted in mandatory detention and deportation of longtime lawful permanent residents with U.S. citizen children, steady employment, home ownership, strong community ties, and exemplary military service records. Every day people are banished and torn apart from their U.S. citizen spouses and children –on account of minor crimes including drugs, shoplifting, theft, or passing a bad check. Between 2010 and 2012, nearly 205,000 parents with U.S. citizen children were deported – representing nearly one quarter of all deportations during that period. A 2011 report found that at least 5,100 children whose parents were detained or deported were placed in foster care. Many of those children may never see their parents again.

As Congress considers Comprehensive Immigration Reform, it is critical to restore much-needed discretion to immigration judges and immigration adjudicators, to ensure that the immigration system produces fair outcomes, preserves American families, and comports with our Constitution and nation’s values. Please join us for this timely discussion, which will include a 10 minute sample from the forthcoming film American Exile, to be introduced by the film’s Director, John J. Valadez, and Producer, Carleen L. Hsu.


  • Margaret D. Stock, Counsel to the Firm, Lane Powell PC, and Lieutenant Colonel (retired), US Army Reserve, Military Police Corps
  • Gilbert T. Gembacz, U.S. Immigration Judge, Retired
  • Miriam Calderon, Policy Consultant, First Focus