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A Sad Day for Justice and Liberty

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 10 Friday, containing some of the most repressive immmigration legislation in a decade. It is a bill that panders to irrational fears about immigrants and terrorists in our midst and is borne of a desperate attempt by Republican lawmakers to make Bush look like a hero in the war on terrorism. In their relentless pursuit of instilling the fear of terrorism in the heart of every American, radical right Republicans and the anti-immigration lobby have teamed together to bring you a nightmare of a bill.

The 9/11 Commission did not recommend the new law enforcement powers and immigration provisions of this bill. In fact, today, the 9/11 Commission wrote this letter to Congress objecting to the inclusion of the immigration and law enforcement provisions.

The bill now goes to conference between the House and Senate. You can take action here. If you live in a district of a Senate conferee, get on the phone and tell your Senator to oppose this bill.

The best course would be for the Senate conferees not to give in to the House conferees and to boot this and all the new law enforcement powers contained in the House bill. The conferees should pass only the reforms recommended by the 9/11 Commission and leave the rest for another day and another Congress. If the House won't go along, the whole bill should die. Let Bill Frist declare an impasse...which will be seen as a failure for President Bush.

Here's some reactions to the bill:

ACLU:

Although the 9-11 Commission did not say the government needed to target immigrants, this bill would expand the government's ability to deport more people without a hearing. It would also allow the government to seize people who may have entered the United States outside the system in the last five years and throw them into a so-called expedited deportation process without the right to a lawyer or to at least make their case in court.

This bill includes provisions proposed by House Republicans that are nothing more than a wish-list for the extreme anti-immigrant fringe, who would divert resources from fighting terrorism to wage war against people whose only crime is seeking a better life in America. The new tools proposed in the House bill would create a dictatorial nightmare where people caught in immigration sweeps could be summarily detained or deported with no access to lawyers or courts.

Congress should not allow intelligence reform to be hijacked by the anti-immigrant lobby.

The Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition: (press release via e-mail):

H.R. 10 would place new barriers on legitimate asylum-seekers, put millions of immigrants at higher risk of deportation, eliminate judicial review of several immigration decisions, prohibit immigrants from using consular identifications or obtaining driver’s licenses, and remove foreign nationals back to persecution or torture in countries with histories of human rights abuses.

“H.R. 10 does nothing to make our country safer. It simply terrorizes immigrant communities while sidestepping the very issue legislators say they want to address – terrorism,” said Maria Jimenez from Mujeres Unidas y Activas (Women United and Active), a BAIRC member organization.

The 9/11 Commission opposes the law enforcement provisions of the bill. Their letter is here.

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