By Juan J Miret
Feb 2006 - This is the right time to be together, otherwise We’ll stop being victims and We’ll become in criminals. The bill project HR 4437, named: The Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act, designed by James Sensenbrenner, if approved by the Senate, will be the most sweepingly dramatic changes in immigration law since the now infamous Illegal Immigration Reform and Individual Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).
Nothing in the bill project provides a comprehensive and realistic plan for our immigration system to enhance border security, support economic growth and provide a legal means to lawful permanent residency for the millions of hardworking undocumented immigrants and their families in the USA.
Under current law, presence in the USA without a valid status is a civil violation, NOT A CRIMINAL ACT. The bill project, would create a new federal CRIME of unlawful presence and would define immigration violation so broadly as to effectively include every violation, however minor, technical or unintentional as a federal CRIME.
In addition to permanently barring the entire undocumented population (including 1.6 million children) from the USA, this would also lead to the tragic separation of families.
Also, HR 4437, expands the definition of “alien smuggling”. So, assisting a person in the USA, when the OFFENDER (as defined in HR 4437) knows the person is in the USA unlawfully will be charged as a CRIMINAL. Then, social services organizations, churches, refugees centers, charitable workers and even FAMILY MEMBER, could face federal PRISON TIME for assisting, for helping, for just giving a hand to undocumented immigrants.
The bill project would grant law enforcement agencies the authority to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain and transfer to Federal Custody undocumented immigrants.
Then, When Police act as immigrants enforcement agents, instead of act as POLICE, it undermines their ability to keep communities safe because immigrants and their family members will be frightened to report crimes, fires and suspicious activity out of fear of exposing themselves, families or neighbors to police. Inevitably, crimes will be left unsolved and the safety of entire communities will be compromised.
We have enough voices, so let’s make noise. According with the Census Bureau, the Hispanic population represents 13.5% of the total population of the country. We are talking about 42 millions (without including about 11 millions of undocumented immigrants!). Even more, in 2050 ONE out FOUR American citizens will be Hispanic.
It’s time to act. And act fast. We have 26 STRONG voices in the Congress.
23 in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate.
We cannot stay still and watch our future being smashed by the hands of Sensenbrenner.
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