NEW YORK — Immigrant rights supporters won a huge victory March 26 when the New York City Council passed Resolution 1250 by a nearly unanimous vote, calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 1176). The council’s resolution is a strong statement against current federal regulations that often separate families by deporting parents of citizen children.

In a press release, Families for Freedom, a New York immigrant rights organization, detailed testimony before the council. “The Child Citizen Protection Act has been the best kept secret in the immigration debate,” wrote organizer Betsy Dewitt. “We hope that our City Council’s stand moves our senators to introduce the bill in the Senate.”

In a telephone interview, Dewitt urged people to get in touch with their representatives in Congress, calling on them to co-sponsor the bill if they have not already done so. She said supporters should explain to their representative that “the laws passed in 1996 are breaking up families and we need to correct that.”

The Child Citizen Protection Act (H.R. 1176), introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), has 30 cosponsors. It would allow immigration judges to “exercise discretion to decline to order the alien removed, deported or excluded from the U.S. if the judge determines that such removal, deportation, or exclusion is clearly against the best interests of the child” as long as the person is not being deported for a security reason or has not engaged in sex trafficking.

Juan Carlos Ruiz, coordinator of the faith-based New Sanctuary Movement, said, “All relationships are sacred, especially the relationship between parents and children. We have faith that this resolution will signal the change that is needed to respect the holy bond of our families and communities.”

For a full list of co-sponsors of H.R. 1176 go to