Menendez Speaks Against Grassley Amendment

Menendez Speaks Against Grassley Amendment

Measure would eliminate judicial review of visa revocations

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today voiced his objections to the amendment offered by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007. Menendez spoke on the floor and said he intended to vote against the amendment which would eliminate the already limited opportunity for judicial review of visa revocations by allowing the government to essentially revoke visas without giving individuals any right to challenge the revocation.

"Exposing individuals in this country to such arbitrary and capricious government action is un-American," said Menendez. "We should be striving for more balance and more transparency in our immigration system, not less.

"Any program can be eviscerated in practice by restrictive rules, unfair adjudication, impermissible criteria or broad interpretations. That is why judicial review and due process is so vitally important."


Full text of Menendez comments, as prepared for delivery:

M. President, I rise in strong opposition to the Grassley amendment, which would abolish the last remnant of judicial review on visa revocations.

Currently, judicial review of visa revocation is already severely restricted. In fact, visa revocations are insulated from any judicial review when the visa holder is outside the U.S. and consular officers have exceptionally broad authority to make revocation decisions.

The only area that limited judicial review of visa revocations remains available is with respect to individuals who are in the U.S. and are placed in removal proceedings as a result of the revocation. Judicial review is permitted in the context of removal proceedings if the revocation is the sole ground for removal. This is a critical check on government authority to make arbitrary decisions.

It is vitally important to allow court review of removal proceedings because a person's ability to remain in the U.S. is at stake. The immigration authorities, as occasionally happens, may have made a mistake in the person's case or the person may have compelling circumstances that warrant consideration by a judge.

This amendment would eliminate that last remaining remnant of judicial review. Not allowing judges to consider the circumstances of a case denies basic American due process and does not solve the problem of undocumented immigration.

Eliminating judicial review for all visa revocations is unnecessary and unduly expands the already broad discretionary authority of the executive branch to make life-altering decisions.

Imagine the following case: A foreign government who wants to reign in one of their dissidents provides false information to the U.S. consulate that leads the consul to revoke the visa. The State Department notifies the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement picks the person up and places him into removal proceedings.

That individual would have absolutely NO ability to contest the basis for removal.

Exposing individuals in this country to such arbitrary and capricious government action is un-American. We should be striving for more balance and more transparency in our immigration system, not less.

Any program can be eviscerated in practice by restrictive rules, unfair adjudication, impermissible criteria or broad interpretations. That is why judicial review and due process is so vitally important. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand together and oppose this unnecessary amendment.

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