Monday, May 29, 2006

Immigrant advocates oppose 'disastrous and irrational' Hagel-Martinez Senate bill

As Congressional negotiators go into the ugly process of making immigration 'sausage' out of HR4437 and the equally racist Hagel-Martinez Senate bill [S.2611] many immigrant rights activists expect the outcome to be one of the worst most anti-immigrant laws in our nation's history.
In sizing up S. 2611 SF's Immigrant Legal Resource Center [ILRC] concludes -
Unfortunately and tragically, they did not get it right: unfortunately, because our nation desperately needs good reform; and tragically because the positive provisions in the bill have been fatally compromised by the negative measures included in the bill. Moreover, in a conference with the House, we expect that the bill's positive provisions will be further eroded, if not eliminated, and the negative provisions made more draconian and unfair.
The ILRC lists a number of the dangers of the Senate version - including:
- A fundamentally unworkable three tiered legalization program with exorbitant fees that will be a nightmare to implement.
- Local and state police encouraged to enforce federal civil immigration law, a body of law that most do not understand and the enforcement of which will dramatically hamper community policing and discourage victims and witnesses of crime from coming forward.
- Increased number of people deported for minor crimes and misdemeanors, changing the rules in the middle of the game: Long time legal permanent residents will be mandatorily deportable for minor crimes such as having three DUI's (Driving under the Influence) no matter how long ago they were convicted and despite their rehabilitation, extensive family ties, and length of time in this country.
- U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents criminalized for helping family members or friends.
- The number of youth who could be found deportable and ineligible
for any immigration benefits expanded
based on the sole finding that the child is or was a member of a gang, with no requirement that any criminal act was committed or there was actual gang activity or involvement.
And groups like LA's Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, New York's Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund along with a number of grassroots immigrant rights groups and the New Jersy Immigration Policy Network have all issued sharper critiques of the Senate bill. The New Jersey Network says:
  • The Three-tiered Approach Will Break Apart Families
  • The Guest-Worker Program is Servitude
  • Refugees and Asylum-Seekers Will Be Victimized
  • Erecting Border Fence and Deployment of Military Troops Have Failed Before
  • Idea of Local Law Enforcement Working as Immigration Agents is Opposed Even by Police Groups
  • Obliteration of Due Process and Expanded Detention and Deportation is Inhumane and Un-American
  • English-Only Approach is Misguided
And lastly, one of San Francisco's treasures, longtime civil rights, women's movement, and human rights leader Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez just wrote a great piece which places the immigration debate and the emerging immigrant rights movement in a proper historical and political context.
Latinos Create a New Political Climate [posted on]

Betita sums up her article with the demands of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights -
  • genuine legalization and opportunities to adjust status for all undocumented
  • preservation of due process, including restoration of access to the courts and meaningful judicial review- no expansion of guest worker programs
  • no more wasted resources to further militarize our borders and contribute to
    the crisis of human rights and lives in the border region- the strengthening and
    enforcement of labor law protections for all workers, native and foreign-born
  • an end to employer sanctions
  • no use of city, state or other government agencies in the enforcement of
    immigration law [this referred particularly to the use of local police] expansion of legal immigration opportunities, support for family reunification and immediate processing of pending visa applications

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