H.R. 4437: A Bad, Bad Border Bill
Update: From Common Dreams:
Apparently drowned out by the shrill charges and counter-charges in the immigration debate is a simple truth articulated by George Hunsinger, McCord professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and coordinator of Church Folks for a Better America. He told us,
"No human being -- whether citizen or non-citizen -- should be placed outside the protections of the law. No one who performs needed work should be denied fair wages and decent conditions. A society that exploits immigrants for their labor while declaring them illegal is caught in a tangle of contradictions."
Update: (3/25) Barbara Boxer slams the bill:
"It's anti-faith based,'' Boxer said. "It's inhumane. Sensenbrenner is inhumane.''
AILA weighs in.
H.R. 4437 goes far beyond advancing a wrongheaded approach to immigration reform--it also subverts our democracy's deeply held values, which are founded on fundamental principles such as the right to a day in court, checks and balances, and freedom from unjust and arbitrary detention. It criminalizes unwitting violations of immigration status-for example, a university student on a student visa whose course load drops below the required number of hours. Additionally, H.R. 4437 sharply restricts judicial review, broadly expands mandatory detention policies, and, outrageously, broadens the definition of alien smuggling and harboring to reach family members, employers, teachers, and immigrant advocates.
Original Post with details of H.R. 4437:(12/15/06):
The ACLU reports that the House as early as today will take up James Sensenbrenner's doozy of an anti-immigration bill. (HR 4437, the "The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005," which also includes HR 4312, the "Border Security and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2005." )
The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the House of Representatives to oppose a border security bill that fails to properly address the issue of illegal immigration, undermines due process and creates a federally mandated "permission slip" for all Americans. This sweeping legislation has not been thoroughly examined by Congress, and yet could be considered as early as today
"Lawmakers have not had enough time to consider the enormous ramifications of this faulty bill; it must be rejected," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "This legislation would place an unprecedented burden on all American workers and American businesses, creating a federally mandated requirement for citizens as well as immigrants to get a permission slip from the federal government before they can take a job."
Requiring a "Mother May I" to go to work?
The legislation would create a sea-change in federal employment rules by requiring all workers in the country to obtain a federal agency's permission to work. All employers would be required to participate in a national employment eligibility verification program in an expansion of the faulty but voluntary "Basic Pilot" program in current law. Like Basic Pilot, the new program would use an Internet-based system to check the names and social security numbers of all employees -- citizens and non-citizen alike -- against a Department of Homeland Security database.
It gets worse:
... the bill gives certain low-level immigration officials broad authority to ignore due process and expel individuals suspected of being here without authorization, further militarizes the border and expands mandatory detention rules to apply to many non-citizens arriving at a port of entry or even far from the border.
The specifics of Sensenbrenner's bill are detailed here:
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
Call your elected officials in Congress. Tell them:
- You oppose H.R. 4437, the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act" and urge them to stop it from becoming law.
- This legislation will result in mass violation of civil rights and create huge obstacles to genuine legalization reforms that would benefit our communities.
- The Sensenbrenner bill deepens the decade-old border enforcement stratregy which has been disasterous and costly.
- Sensenbrenner's immigration enforcement proposal will not work and only result in more migrant deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border and lead to the erosion of our civil liberties and civil rights.
[graphic by monk]
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