Saturday, January 14, 2006

Welcome to Amerika

National Migration Week and HR4437

Solidarity with immigrants. You know, it's a pro-life issue too.

And we're in the middle of passing some pretty draconian legislation that is designed to make life increasingly tough for the undocumented. Not only that, it seems to be even worse than the racist, xenophobic times of the early 1920s. So what? They're illegal, goes the shrill, blood-thirsty cry. Well, if you really think this is the best way to deal with 8 to 11 million people (many with children who are US citizens), then I would suggest: why stop here? Why not go a further step? Round-em up! Put em in buses or trains and send 'em back! (Hey all the work and public spending this involves will create jobs and boost the economy!) Heck, let's just make sure that everyone who doesn't look "American" (i.e., I guess lily-white or black) has to prove their right to be here at any given moment. O ya. Let's make sure they clean our houses, and work in our meat-packaging plants, and break their backs picking our fruit, and let's make sure they are treated in the worst possibly way while we're at it, so that they're afraid to send their kids to school, or to get medicines when they need them, and are forced to drive illegally. Heck, you never know which one is a terrorist. Because, they're not really human are they. They're ILLEGAL.

'Cause this is exactly what a country which supposeldy espouses Christian values is all about.

[And, of course, the representatives from our oh-so Christian South Carolina voted aye on this one.]

Yep, it's commonplace to hear on every side, that the immigration system is broken. So, instead of trying to fix it, by actually facing up to the serious realities -- both of national idenity and integration, but also of the economic realities that underly the migration of so many to el Norte, let's just break the unfortunate people. Because we can. Because it will make us feel like we're Doing Something. And, most certainly, ensure that this current crop of legislator's is re-elected. And that's what it's about, right?

Here's the USCCB press-release, and the Justice for Migrants campaign.

What will HR4437 do if it is signed into law? Here's a summary:
  • “Unlawful presence” would now be considered a crime and a felony, meaning that undocumented immigrants may have to serve jail time and would be barred from future legal status and from re-entry into the country.

  • Immigrants, including asylum-seekers, victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic abuse, and children who are apprehended along an international border or at a port-of-entry would be detained until such time as they are removed from the nation or otherwise provided immigration relief.

  • Anyone or any organization who “assists” an individual without documentation “to reside in or remain” in the United States knowingly or with “reckless disregard” as to the individual’s legal status would be liable for criminal penalties and five years in prison. This could include church personnel who provide shelter or other basic needs assistance to an undocumented individual. Property used in this act would be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

  • The use of expedited removal, which would permit DHS enforcement personnel to remove a potential asylum-seeker without providing an opportunity to appear before an immigration judge or qualified adjudicator, would be mandated within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of a person’s entry into the country.

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to erect up to 700 miles of fencing along the Southwest border at points with the highest number of immigrant deaths.

  • State and local law enforcement are authorized to enforce federal immigration laws. State and local governments which refuse to participate would be subject to the loss of federal funding.

  • Asylum seekers and refugees who are convicted of a minor offense, such as petty theft, would be barred from permanent legal residence and eventual citizenship.

  • Document fraud would be considered an aggravated felony and would subject an asylum-seeker to deportation and bars to re-entry.

  • Nationals from countries who do not accept the return of aliens who commit crimes in this country would not be admitted to the United States. This would include countries such as China, Vietnam, and Cuba.

  • DHS would be given the authority to continue to detain individuals who have served their sentences based upon a determination that they are a “dangerous alien,” contrary to Supreme Court rulings barring indefinite detention.

  • The diversity visa lottery program, which allows 50,000 immigrants each year from countries around the world to permanently reside in the United States, is eliminated.
The legislation now moves to the Senate. Where I pray it will die, or be amended. And, no idea on whether President Bush will sign this or not. If this becomes law, then, among many other things, stories like this will be commonplace. And, God help us all, because the folks responsible for enforcing all this will be part of that incompetent overgrown bureaucratic behemoth of a joke that is the Department of Homeland Security.

Oh, and before anyone goes off on this being a darned liberal-pinko-commie thing, here's what the Archbishop of Philadelphia (sure, he's a liberal-pinko-commie) had to say:

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill concerning immigration policy. Among its provisions, H.R. 4437 makes all undocumented immigrants criminals; removes due process protection to asylum seekers and refugees, including children; and mandates the detention of families and other vulnerable groups along our border. It also subjects humanitarian workers, including Church workers, to five years in prison simply for providing basic needs assistance, such as food and water, to an undocumented immigrant.

[snip]

Congress, with the support of President Bush, should seek to repair our broken immigration system by enacting comprehensive immigration legislation that reforms all aspects of our nation's immigration system, not simply law enforcement. Such legislation should propose an earned legalization program for the 11 million undocumented persons in the country. Earned legalization is not amnesty because the proposal requires immigrants to work for up to six years before applying for legal permanent residency. The bill should include a temporary worker program, which would provide legal channels for migrant workers to migrate in a safe, legal and orderly manner; and reductions in family visa backlogs, which causes family separation for up to 10 years or more. This approach offers stronger security measures because it provides an incentive for undocumented immigrants and their families to "come out of the shadows" and identify themselves to government authorities.
Oh, and read that other bleeding-heart's statement, the Archbishop of Denver.

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