A Call for Reform of Recent Immigration Legislation

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 dramatically limit the procedural rights of aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes. Consequently, aliens who have immigrated to the United States to escape persecution in their homelands are deported without adequate hearing or appeal. This Note argues that the laws violate international obligations and Constitutional law. It advocates amending the laws to give the Attorney General discretion over deportation decisions, eliminating retroactive application of deportation for aggravated felons, and reinstating judicial review of deportation or exclusion decisions.