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Civil Rights Groups Call on President Biden to Include Immigrants In Pardon Process

Issue area
Crimes/Post-Conviction Relief
Posted: Jun. 2, 2021

For Immediate Release
June 2, 2021

Arianna Rosales, National Immigration Project,

Washington, DC — Nearly 200 immigration, criminal justice, and civil rights organizations released a letter today urging the Biden administration to include immigrants in the pardon process, following news that the Biden administration is planning a process that focuses on racial equity. The letter highlights that immigration is a racial justice issue and calls for consideration of immigration consequences from the get-go.

The organizations reminded the administration that the same racial inequities infect both the criminal legal system and the immigration enforcement system - but immigrants are frequently left out of criminal justice reforms. They ask the president to "not forget immigration and its insidious entanglement with the criminal legal system."

The letter, led by the National Immigration Project, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), and National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), urges President Biden to consider immigration consequences while exercising his pardon power in two ways: first, by pardoning immigrants with deportable convictions in order to spare them from deportation; and second, by ensuring that those who receive clemency also receive an exercise of discretion protecting them from detention and deportation to ensure that the clemency is not rendered meaningless.

Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project:
"A pardon process that focuses on racial equity must include meaningful relief for immigrants. Black and Brown immigrants are disproportionately targeted and punished twice over, first by the criminal system and then by the immigration system. The Department of Justice must ensure that immigrants can benefit equally from this process, and that people who receive a pardon or clemency are able to return to their communities and are not subject to detention and deportation."

Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), stated:
"Black immigrants are disproportionately stopped, searched, arrested, and killed by the police. Like all Black people in America, Black immigrants are also over-represented from arrest rates to sentencing. 76 % of Black Immigrants are deported because of contact with the police. We urge President Biden to protect Black and Brown non-citizens by exercising his pardon power to undo convictions that will trigger detention and deportation."

Nayna Gupta, Associate Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), stated:
"The Biden Administration and the Department of Justice have the opportunity to address the harms of criminal laws that disproportionately impact Black and Brown individuals and doubly impact Black and Brown immigrants. President Biden must use his power to ensure that those immigrants who are granted freedom from criminal incarceration can remain free and united with their families here in the U.S. regardless of their citizenship status."

The full text of the letter can be found here.


The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) is a national non-profit organization that provides technical assistance and support to community-based immigrant organizations, legal practitioners, and all advocates seeking and working to advance the rights of noncitizens. NIPNLG utilizes impact litigation, advocacy, and public education to pursue its mission. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on social media: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild on Facebook, @NIPNLG on Twitter and Instagram.