Friday, June 30, 2017

House passes two anti-immigrant bills

WHILE ALL EYES are focused on the Russia probe and Trumpcare, the U.S. House of Representatives approved two anti-immigrant bills with serious consequences for immigrant communities in the U.S., and would both undermine public safety and tear families apart. 

“These bills are riddled with constitutional violations that completely disregard the civil and human rights of immigrants.," said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the ACLU. "Despite claims to the contrary, Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act will make our communities less safe by undermining the trust that law enforcement builds with its communities — citizen and immigrant alike. The true intent of these bills is to empower Trump’s deportation force and anti-immigrant agenda."

The bills are:
  • H.R. 3003 allows the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold crucial law enforcement and terrorism funding from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that limit how their police can work with federal immigration agencies.
  • H.R. 3004 expands criminal sentences for undocumented immigrants who reenter, or attempt to reenter, the U.S. It also expands the population of people who would be subject to criminal prosecution for such crimes, including individuals who seek to apply for asylum and surrender themselves at the border, as well as individuals with no criminal history.  
"Their first bill, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, effectively declares war on American cities, law enforcement, and immigrant communities by making deporting immigrants more of a priority than protecting communities," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., chair of the Congresional Asian Pacific American Caucus. 

"There is abundant evidence that sanctuary and community trust policies make communities safer," agreed Asian American Advancing Justice, a coalition of five civil rights organizations. "As Arizona and Texas have shown us, forcing local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws increases racial profiling and distrust of law enforcement by communities of color."

“The second bill, Kate’s Law, is even worse," continued the AAAJ statement. "This is politically-driven legislation intended to create a fear of immigrants, even though repeated studies have shown immigrants commit fewer crimes. It goes so far that it criminalizes immigrants trying to rejoin their families or refugees fleeing violence. This is shameful."

Approximately 40 percent of all immigrants come to the U.S. from Asia, and 1.6 million of those immigrants are undocumented. Anti-immigrant policies create a climate of fear for all immigrants, regardless of status.

"Criminalizing victims of human trafficking, asylum seekers, good Samaritans, and victims of violence under the guise of safety is unacceptable," said Rep. Pramila Jayapa, D-Wash. "I reject these fear-mongering bills, and I will continue to fight to welcome the ‘huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,’ even as my Republican colleagues attempt to slam the door in their faces.”

Anti-immigrant rhetoric has been a key part of Donald Trump and his campaign and administration. His push for the a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and his executive orders limiting travel from six Muslim-dominated countries is part of creating an environment of fear to motivate his followers to support a dictator-like president.

A Pew Charitable Trust survey shows that as many as 66 percent of registered voters who supported Trump consider immigration a “very big problem,” while only 17 percent of Hillary Clinton’s supporters said the same. Seventy-nine percent of Trump supporters embrace the proposal to build a wall “along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.” Moreover, 59 percent of Trump supporters actively associate “unauthorized immigrants with serious criminal behavior.”

In Trump, his supporters find a line of talk and thinking that supports their own xenophobia and fear of the "other."