January 09, 2009

CONLAMIC Leaders Condemn Attorney General Mukasey's Decision to Deny Deportation Detainee's Right to Legal Representation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The President of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders issued a statement yesterday on behalf of 16,000 Latino ministers condemning the decision made by Attorney General Michael Mukasey to deny undocumented immigrants the right to legal counsel and due process prior to deportation.

"This decision is major blow to America's civil rights movement. The right to legal representation is one of the most basic provisions that the American constitution allows and Mukasey's decision adds to the dysfunction of an already dismal American immigration system," said Rev. Miguel Rivera, President of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC).

"The decision to deny due process and the constitutional rights of legal representation is completely unacceptable and we urge the Attorney General to reverse this decision immediately," said William Sanchez, President of the CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund.

Undocumented immigrants are suffering great hardship within the broken U.S. immigration system. Latino ministers nationwide have heard the cry of families within their churches that have been defrauded by corrupt attorney's and public notary's after spending hard earned money trying to navigate the complex immigration system. As a result, hundreds of thousands of hardworking and law abiding individuals have lost their way within the system and face deportation, loss of their homes, families and are at the hands of abuses within the system. The decision to deny these individual their last hope of due process and legal representation is a cruel blow to human rights in America and will only allow for greater abuses.

"Our church members are people of great faith. As a minister and leader of ministers, I believe that most undocumented individuals are good and have contributed greatly to our nation; it is wise for our nation to support them in their quest to become permanent residents. At the very minimum, our immigration system must treat those held for deportation humanely and with the respect that they deserve. I am outraged at the immoral decision of Mr. Mukasey. The undocumented immigrants must have access to our basic right to legal representation," said Rev. Dr. Kittim Silva, Bishop of the Council of Pentecostal churches and Vice President of CONLAMIC.

CONLAMIC has joined Congressman Luis Gutierrez in a nationwide effort to collect signatures from American citizens who will sponsor undocumented families, an initiative started by Rep. Gutierrez.

"We are confident that Attorney General Mukasey's decision will be overturned quickly and that President Elect Barack Obama's Administration will ensure the protection against such disregard for fundamental principals of due process of law," said Rev. Rivera.

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