Using Immigration Law to Protect Human Rights: A Critique of Recent Legislative Proposals

This Article critiques several legislative proposals that sought to impose immigration restrictions on serious human rights abusers. Part I provides a brief overview of the international restrictions on immigration relief. In particular, it focuses on those restrictions that limit immigration relief available to individuals who have committed serious human rights abuses. Part II then reviews the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and its restrictions on immigration relief. It also examines the federal agencies charged with investigating cases of serious human rights abusers in the United States. Part III describes recent legislative proposals that have sought to deny immigration relief to serious human rights abusers. It critiques four bills and a related Justice Department proposal: (1) S. 1375: Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act; (2) H.R. 5285: Serious Human Rights Abusers Accountability Act of 2000; (3) Human Rights Abusers Act of 2000; (4) H.R. 1449: Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act; and (5) S. 864: Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act of 2001. Finally, Part IV sets forth a list of recommendations for U.S. immigration policy. These recommendations seek to balance the desire to combat impunity with the need to protect the rights of legitimate immigrants.