Thursday, March 09, 2006

In the mood for a protest?

If you live in Illinois, there's going to be a huge protest tomorrow -- March 10 -- for those against the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) and the Minuteman Project:

WHERE & TIME: Departure is at Union Park, Ashland & Lake at noon
Rally point is at Chicago's Federal Plaza (230 S. Dearborn) from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

On Friday, December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed the H.R. 4437, introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), by a vote of 239 to 182. Now this part boggles my mind: the law turns any relative, employer, co-worker, or friend who helps an undocumented migrant an "alien smuggler" and a felon, punishable by imprisonment. So you're telling me that I can't even take my migrant friend to the store?!?!?!? Unreal.

The Philadelphia Media Center has a great summary of this bill on its website. Here are a few of the highlights about the bill:

This bill would make unlawful presence in the United States a federal aggravated felony! There are 11 million immigrants who live within the United States without legal status (one-sixth of whom are children). Because aggravated felons are ineligible to obtain legal status in the United States, this would make some of the most commonly accepted forms of immigration relief, including asylum and the Violence Against Women Act (for battered spouses of US Citizens and green card holders), nearly impossible to obtain.

Also, even though it is a federal law, the bill would make state and local law-enforcement, most of whom have no knowledge of immigration law whatsoever, responsible for enforcing immigration violations. It would also require seven million employers to implement a national employment authorization verification system for all immigrant employees, within the next two years, an impossible task, using an existing database that already lacks certain basic privacy safeguards.

This law also turns any relative, employer, co-worker, or friend of who helps an undocumented migrant an "alien smuggler" and a felon, punishable by imprisonment. The criminalized forms of assisting an undocumented immigrant could be as innoccous as driving a neighbor to the grocery store or providing shelter to a survivor of domestic violence. It is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act, which states that public services cannot be denied on the basis of national origin; suddenly, hospital emergency rooms would have to ask for immigration documents before admitting a pregnant woman. An undocumented woman could call the police on her abusive husband and find herself locked up instead, for the "crime" of living in the United States without a visa.

This law would empower police to demand "papers" of anyone, at any time, forcing even United States citizens to carry proof of their U.S. Citizenship with them at all times.

It would open the door for selective enforcement to be used for purposes of ethnic and political intimidation. It would criminalize student visa holders who drop a class or work visa holders who change jobs. It would put three million US Citizen children of undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their parents at any minute. The bill would also make it much easier for U.S. government officials to deny citizenship to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) who apply for naturalization, at their own discretion and on the basis of secret evidence that is not subject to review.

So if you're free tomorrow afternoon, join in!

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