Say No to Sensenbrenner's Border Protection Bill

Update: Rep. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), leading Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee (press release):

'This Bill is so Ridiculous that, According to the Republicans, Santa Claus Himself Would be a Criminal for Trekking from The North Pole to Deliver Holiday Gifts Without a Visa.'

The bill passed the House today, by a vote of 239-to-182. See Sensenbrenner gloat.

Original Post

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights wrote to Congress yesterday asking it to defeat H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner. I detailed the worst provisions of the bill here. Here's NIRR's webpage on the bill. From today's letter, received by e-mail:

There are many troubling pieces of this proposal -- including the expanded definition of an aggravated felony, mandatory detention for all immigrants detained at ports of entry or along international borders, the limiting of legal rights and due process for those charged with immigration violations, and the potential for more employer discrimination and abuse of workers. This legislation would perpetuate existing policies, practices and strategies that have failed to curtail unauthorized migration.

....Ironically, in this holiday season, some members of Congress are proposing one of the most mean-spirited immigration bills in decades to come before the floor of the House of Representatives. We urge you to reject H.R. 4437 in its entirety and to work for genuine solutions that respect rights and provide for the health and safety of our immigrant communities.

What would be better?

Our country can be safer and more secure only when civil rights and civil liberties are upheld for everyone, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, and the branding of immigration as a national security issue is stopped. H.R. 4437 does nothing to alleviate the immigration policy crisis and would only intensify the human suffering already taking place.

Change in U.S. immigration policy needs to incorporate a commitment to a genuine program to help regularize the status of undocumented immigrants, provide expanded avenues for legal immigration that is current with the real needs for family reunification. Changes in immigration policy should respect, not denigrate, the rights of immigrants. The U.S. has already dramatically increased its immigration enforcement programs and budget over the last 15 years or so. Since 1993, annual spending on border enforcement has increased from $740 million to $3.8 billion! What's needed in immigration enforcement is not more spending, but greater accountability and clear adherence to human and civil rights standards.

As to what's so bad:

Among other provisions, the bill would:

  • Continues expanding the same border enforcement and militarization strategies that has resulted in over 4,000 migrant death since 1994.
  • Expands the expedited deportation program
  • Drastically expands the definition of an aggravated felony (deportable offense).
  • Requires mandatory detention for all immigrants apprehended at ports of entry or along international borders until removal or a final decision in their case.
  • Sets a minimum bond of $5,000 for anyone with a Notice to Appear.
  • Overturns the Supreme Court's ruling in Zadvydas which limits long-term detention.
  • Renders immigrants affiliated with gangs deportable and inadmissible, mandates their detention, bars them from asylum or Temporary Protected Status; gives the AG authority to designate gang members for immigration purposes.
  • Limits immigrants' access to the circuit courts by creating a special review process for federal court appeals of immigration cases.
  • Makes undocumented immigration status a crime
  • Makes certain provisions of the REAL ID Act retroactive
  • Includes Day Labor Sites in the employment verification system
    And more.

[graphic by monk]

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  • PLEASE TELL US HOW TO TAKE ACTION to protest this heinous bill. Imagine, making all 'illegal immigrants' into automatic felons! Making immigrants' children ineligible to become citizens (that is currently not on the table, but was part of discussions earlier this week). Imagine making all 'illegal immigrants' accused of crimes not eligible to contest accusations or to appeal lower-court decisions in a court of law. Another effort to allow selected "good citizens" (white Christian males, perhaps?) to tell everyone else what to do. Shameful.

    TL: I think the bill addresses Illegal immigrants. You seem to be mixing immigrants and illegal immigrants together. If you think the bill also goes after legal immigrants, can you link to the part of the bill that targets legal immigrants? Thanks.

    Re: Say No to Sensenbrenner's Border Protection B (none / 0) (#3)
    by Punchy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    Well, I'm no mathematician, but the numbers seem just staggering: Mandatory detention for all illegals? If 1K cross each nite...say 10% are caught (lowballing the %, probably). That's 100 detained EVERY day? Where can so many be held? For how long? Who pays the tab for all the food, fingerprinting, etc associated with lockup? Seems like a logistical nightmare for BP agents.... The AG can designate ANY immigrant a gang member? With or without judicial oversight? Wow, what unchecked power the AG holds... Finally....doesn't Cali's economy almost require this illegal labor force for their vineyards and farms? Have Repubs considered what this will do to their Hispanic vote?

    Too... many... lies... must... prioritize... response... There's more on the NNIRR here. What a nice group they are too. As for just one of their claims: "the potential for more employer discrimination and abuse of workers" I want you liberals to think real hard about this: as long as there are illegal aliens, most of them will be abused in some form or other. If you want to prevent worker abuse, you have two options: give anyone who wants to come here citizenship, or keep all the illegal aliens out. Those are your only two choices, any other choice is impossible (if you want to prevent worker abuse). Obviously, we can't give out citizenship to anyone who asks. For you who want to prevent worker abuse, you have no choice but to prevent illegal immigration. On the other hand, if you don't mind worker abuse, propping up and subsidizing inefficient industries, and driving down wages for American workers, continue to support illegal immigration. Plus, those growers have lots of money, so maybe you could get their "support", if you know what I mean.

    Re: Say No to Sensenbrenner's Border Protection B (none / 0) (#5)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    and driving down wages for American workers
    So BMB, after you were fired from your job picking peaches, how did you ever recover? Easy fix for this situation. Either fine the hell out of Americans who hire illegals, or better yet, kick them and their subsidiarys out of the country. They would not be here if AMERICAN companies were not WILLING to hire them. Most wrong-wingers seem to conveniently forget that. Hell, while were at it. Make the penalty for hiring an illegal instant incarceration. Plus substantial restitution to men such as BMB who feel their wages are driven down by illegals. I am pretty sure this would do far more to curb illegal immmigration than any fence or prison plan. How about it wrong-wingers? Willing to bite the hand that feeds you? I didn't think so.

    Johnny: sure I advocate fining the employers huge amounts of money. Are you willing to toss out and keep out illegals if that were to happen?

    Re: Say No to Sensenbrenner's Border Protection B (none / 0) (#7)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    I am willing to toss out about 99% of the people on this continent, but Uncle Jim told me I can't say that anymore.

    This issue, more than others, reminds me of the gulf between myself and so many people I read. We are all the children of immigrants. Parts of my family came over here in the 17th and 18th centuries, other parts of my family came several thousand years before then. How can we, as a nation of immigrants now turn around to those behind us and say, "I'm sorry. You missed the cut off date. Go home"? Some people, I fear, I will never understand.

    Re: Say No to Sensenbrenner's Border Protection B (none / 0) (#9)
    by Johnny on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 05:56:40 AM EST
    "I'm sorry. You missed the cut off date. Go home"
    It's easy... Just ask any of these people who have lost their jobs to immigrants. Oh wait. That would be virtually nil.