This past week marked the 20th anniversary of two acts signed into law in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).

These immigration laws are brutal and criminalize immigrants.

When my husband Picasso was deported in 2001, this was a second deportation. At the time, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization official told Picasso that he wouldn’t be allowed to enter the U.S. for 20 years.

Fast-forward to 2012. I’m reading what our immigration lawyer is preparing for our I-212 waiver application. This waiver, if approved by the powers that be, would allow for us to then put in a U.S. permanent residency application.

I didn’t understand why our immigration lawyer kept referring to a lifetime ban in her letter for the U.S. officials to review.

Our lawyer explained to me that due to the IIRAIRA, Picasso was actually banned for life from entering the U.S. She explained to me that he had a lifetime ban because it was his second deportation, one of the provisions of IIRAIRA.

Eleven years after Picasso was deported, under the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer, that was when I was told for the first time that Picasso had a lifetime ban.

This was after one initial trip to Ciudad Juárez at the U.S. Consulate for a failed permanent residency appointment and two prior immigration lawyers who were intimate with our case.

Picasso’s second deportation happened five years after IIRAIRA and AEDPA went into effect.

So you’d think at some point before the eleven year mark someone would have mentioned the lifetime ban.

And Picasso and I are just one family that’s been directly affected by these 1996 immigration laws.

So this past week, I was extremely moved to read about the push to #FIX96. The Immigrant Justice Network’s press release states that,

“… Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), in partnership with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and over 30 members of Congress, introduced a resolution that calls to repeal specific provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) signed into law in 1996 during the Clinton administration. The provisions in question lay the groundwork for criminalizing immigrants, directly resulting in a 20-year legacy of separating families and uprooting communities through mandated detention and deportation.”

Tonight, I’m asking all of you to please take the time to learn about IIRAIRA and AEDPA. Check out the Immigrant Justice Network’s comprehensive website that’s full of history, resources, stories from the community and how to take action.

Because I don’t want our communities to go through another 20 years of this madness.














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