April 05, 2006

Immigration deform.

In Monday's SF Chronicle, a story by Tyche Hendricks spells out as clearing as anything I've read exactly what's wrong with HR 4437, the punitive immigration bill that's already passed the US House of Representatives and which is now being debated in the Senate. While it's currently looking like the most punitive aspects of HR 4437 will not be included in the Senate's final immigration bill, that bill almost certainly contain other provisions that are opposed by immigrant advocacy groups.

Not illegal

Another US family? Or a nest of felons?
[Photo: Mike Kepka/SF Chronicle]

When Anna Salazar was first dating her husband, Roberto, it didn't occur to her to ask his immigration status.

By the time the California native learned Roberto was an illegal immigrant, it didn't make a difference: She had met the love of her life. Now -- five years, a Valentine's Day wedding and two baby boys later -- they are facing Roberto's deportation to Mexico and a possible 10-year exile from the country where he has lived since he was 8.

If an immigration bill being protested across the country in recent weeks becomes law, Roberto, 30, also could be deemed an aggravated felon, sent to prison and then barred from the United States for life. The stakes for families like the Salazars are high as the national debate unfolds over that bill -- which passed the House of Representatives in December and includes 700 miles of fortified border fencing -- and over reforms the Senate is considering.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, defended the House legislation, which he sponsored, as "the first thing we have to do to fix our broken system."

Sensenbrenner's bill would build 700 miles of fencing along the border and have Anna Salazar, too, charged with an aggravated felony -- "harboring" her undocumented husband. She could face more than a year in prison, loss of her children to foster care during that time and forfeiture of her assets.

"So our kids get taken away. Is there anybody that that helps?" asked Anna, 24, as she set a morning snack of crackers, grapes and a deviled egg on the kitchen table for 2 1/2-year-old Robert. "Then we'd have a bunch of jails flooded with all these people" who have helped illegal immigrants.

No human is illegal

The kind of country that would make criminals of the Salazars and build the a barrier reminiscent of the Berlin Wall or other Soviet-era border fortifications in Eastern Europe is not the country this magpie grew up in. And, if a lot of us fight hard enough, it will not be the kind of country any one of us dies in, either.

This coming Monday, April 10, there'll be demonstrations across the US to oppose the immigrant-bashing that has beome so fashionable recently — even among so-called progressives — and to remind Congress that a huge number of Americans want real immigration reform — not a nasty measure like HR 4437. You can find more information here at the Immigrant Solidarity Network, including a list of the April 10 activities around the country.

Thanks to Direland for the links.

Posted by Magpie at April 5, 2006 03:18 PM | Human Rights | Technorati links |