Thursday, September 26, 2013

Webinar: Criminalizing Migration: Excessive Prosecution and Punishment -- October 1

Human Rights Watch, the Immigrant Justice Network, and the National Immigrant Justice Center invite you to join a free webinar on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, from 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST (1:00 – 2:30 PM CST) to learn more about the skyrocketing increase in federal prosecutions of immigration offenses.

Immigration cases now constitute 40 percent of all federal criminal cases. The vast majority of these cases involve illegal entry and illegal reentry; i.e. entering the US illegally and reentering after deportation. The sheer volume of immigration cases has overwhelmed federal courts along the border and led to procedural shortcuts, including group trials where nearly every defendant pleads guilty and one attorney can represent over 30 to 40 clients at a time. These prosecutions affect not only first-time migrants, but also long-term residents of the US who are desperate to return to their families after deportation.  Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced a new initiative to address over-criminalization and reduce the federal prison population, but the reforms considered thus far have failed to address the tens of thousands of nonviolent immigration offenders who are sentenced to prison each year.

The webinar will cover the tremendous human and financial costs of immigration prosecutions and advocacy opportunities for immigration and criminal justice reform advocates. Specifically, it will address:

· Who is being prosecuted and changes in prosecution policies;

· Challenges faced by federal defenders and federal courts, including the impact of budget cuts and sequestration;

· The impact of immigration prosecutions on the growing federal prison population and the related growth in private prisons;

· How criminal immigration prosecutions exacerbate unfairness in the civil immigration system;

· How the Senate immigration bill and House proposals would address immigration prosecutions; and

· Advocacy opportunities in the context of federal sentencing reform.

The speakers include:

· Grace Meng, US researcher at Human Rights Watch, and author of the 2013 report, Turning Migrants into Criminals: The Harmful Impact of US Border Prosecutions

· Donna Coltharp, deputy public defender for the Western District of Texas

· Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and Immigrant Justice Network partner

· Claudia Valenzuela, associate director of litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center

· Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, and author of Operation Streamline: Costs and Consequences. The webinar is free and open to advocates interested in immigration and criminal justice reform.

To register for the webinar taking place on October 1 at 2:00 pm EST, please click here.


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