Monday, March 27, 2006

Emergency action: immigration

Tell Congress: Vote No on Sensenbrenner's, Specter's, or Any Other Anti-Immigrant Bill!

Congress is on the verge of passing legislation that will decide how immigrants will be treated for decades to come. 11 million undocumented immigrants and those who help them get food, a job, or a home would be turned into criminals -- unless we act now!

A powerful conservative alliance sold the Iraq war in the name of making people safe from terrorism. Now they want us to believe that our security depends on making being in the U.S. without proper papers a felony and aiding undocumented immigrants a federal crime. Our harsh immigration laws already break up hundreds of thousands of families and often leave U.S.-born children without a mom or dad. This vicious attempt to manipulate people's post-9/11 fears would further strip immigrants of rights all people should have.

This weekend, more than a million immigrant rights supporters marched in Los Angeles and in other cities around the country to protest this anti-immigrant attack and demand that immigrants are treated with the dignity and respect that should be accorded to every human being. On March 10 up to 300,000 marched in Chicago. Another protest is taking place today in Washington, DC, as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins debate on immigration reform.

United for Peace and Justice urges you to add your voice to the chorus that is calling for real immigration reform that does not criminalize immigrant adults and children or the social workers, nurses and others who provide them with help:

Capitol Switchboard: (888) 355-3588 (toll-free) or (202) 334-3121

Please call both of your Senators TODAY. You can ask for the Senator by name at the number above. If you don't know his/her name or the line is busy, see: and click on "Senators" at the top left.

Tell your Senator to vote NO on HR 4437, the Sensenbrenner bill, Senator Arlen Specter's bill, or any other version that retains anti-immigrant provisions. Instead of undermining civil rights and civil liberties, they should support immigration reform that enables undocumented immigrants to legalize their status and gain a path to citizenship, reunifies immigrant families, stops mandatory deportations and indefinite detentions, and supports the rights of all workers.
To find out about protests in your community, see:

In December 2005, the House of Representatives passed HR 4437, which was introduced by Representative James Sensenbrenner. HR 4437 is a punitive, anti-immigrant bill that would, among other things, make an undocumented immigrant's presence in the US a federal crime; fund 700 miles of wall on the US-Mexico border; and expand the definition of smuggling to include assistance to an undocumented person.

Now the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering its own immigration legislation, starting with Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter's "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006." This alleged "compromise" bill is in fact virulently anti-immigrant. Specifically, it would:
Make it a felony to be "out of status" or in technical violation of immigration laws. A student who drops a course, a lawful permanent resident who does not notify DHS that she moved, the mother of a sick, US citizen child who overstays her visitor visa, an undocumented farm worker -- all could be arrested, prosecuted criminally, and/or deported.
Make it a felony to help an undocumented immigrant find a job, a place to live, or to get to a grocery store, even if you are a religious institution, family members, or a nonprofit organization. Green cardholders convicted of "Good Samaritan" acts can get deported.
Force local and state police to enforce immigration laws -- immigrants may be afraid to call 911 for help.
Deport more Green Card Holders for smaller criminal offenses.
Put more money into detaining immigrants, a costly and overcrowded system that is already full of abuse.
Make it more difficult to gain legal status or get citizenship.
Drastically limit the federal courts' abilities to review immigration decisions -- forcing all appeals into a single court in order to silence courts around the country that have found Immigration's actions to be wrong. Many people's appeals will just be thrown out or dismissed without being heard.
For more information on the current immigration legislation, visit:
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
- Rights Working Group
- Detention Watch Network

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