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September 21, 2006

Sensenbrenner Provisions Could Pass Senate - Action Needed!

Here is an urgent message from AILA;

Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are using underhanded politics to pass their enforcement-only immigration agenda. They are working behind closed doors and using procedural mechanisms to attach enforcement-only provisions contained in three bills (H.R. 6094, H.R. 6095, and H.R. 4830) to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, a piece of legislation that must pass this year. Although House leaders label these bills "border security" legislation, they are in fact harsh enforcement measures lifted from Rep. Sensenbrenner's H.R. 4437 that endanger due process rights and do little to make our borders more secure.

The three bills are scheduled for a floor vote in the House this week, but since they would be unlikely to pass intact through the Senate, House leaders are already working behind the scenes to include them in the DHS appropriations bill. If these provisions are attached to the must-pass DHS bill, it will be nearly impossible to defeat them. Our best defense against this backdoor strategy is to put pressure on each U.S. Senator and encourage them to oppose any attempt to pass, attach, or further these three enforcement-only bills. We're working hard in Washington to derail these political machinations, but we can't do it alone. We need your help.

Over the summer House leadership used dozens of faux hearings to stage public displays of aversion to immigration reform. While they kept the media busy and their restrictionist base roiled, they failed to change the minds of the majority of Americans who support a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system. Nor did they succeed in backing down the U.S. Senators who supported S. 2611, a strong step towards comprehensive immigration reform. Now that House leaders know that the full Senate won't pass their enforcement-only agenda, they have resorted to closed-door politicking. We must fight to prevent the breach of justice that would result from attaching these enforcement-only bills to must-pass legislation.

Email your Senators through Contact Congress on AILA's website; www.aila.org.

We've already created a sample letter for you to send. All you need to do is enter your zip code, hit send, and your voice will be heard in Congress.

Call your Senators, you can find their telephone numbers in our Congressional Directory and you can use these talking points to help you when you call:
• Congress should stop playing politics with immigration and pass comprehensive immigration reform. These enforcement-only bills will do nothing to enhance border security and will not move us one inch closer to fixing our broken immigration system.

• Attaching these bills to DHS appropriations circumvents the legislative process on an issue of critical national importance; it undermines the intense and unflagging efforts of the Senate to solve this crisis; and it rewards the House for spending the summer attacking the Senate while abdicating its responsibility to the American people.

• Senators should forcefully oppose this effort by the House to nullify the Senate's bi-partison solution. If the Senate acquiesces on these provisions, the House will only be emboldened and will never return to debate comprehensive reform. This will not be "enforcement-first", it will be "enforcement-only."

• For laws to work, they must be realistic and fair. Our current immigration laws are neither: proposals like these that ignore the reality that immigrants come here to work and to be with their families are destined to fail.

• Giving the government unchecked powers to punish immigrants, and making local police chase after immigrants, will only drive undocumented immigrants further underground. It will not fix the problem; it will make matters worse.

In addition to their covert effort to attach these three enforcement-only provisions to the DHS appropriations, House Leadership has scheduled Floor votes on each of the bills. These votes are expected tomorrow and it's important that your Representative hears from you before then.

You can email your Representative through Contact Congress. We've already created a sample letter for you to send. All you need to do is enter your zip code, hit send, and your voice will be heard in Congress.

Please call your Senators and Representative today. Now is the time for action.

Sincerely,

Marshall Fitz
Director of Advocacy, AILA

The enforcement-only provisions are:

• Sections 101 and 102 of the Dangerous Alien Detention Act contained in H.R. 6094, which seek to legitimize the practice of indefinite detention of aliens awaiting removal, despite Supreme Court decisions requiring elimination of this practice;

• Section 201 of the Criminal Alien Removal Act contained in H.R. 6094, which would expand the use of expedited removal proceedings to individuals already in the United States - even individuals who have resided here for years - in ways that would significantly increase the risk of deporting innocent people;

• Sections 301-303 of the Alien Gang Removal Act contained in H.R. 6094, which would grant unfettered discretion to the executive branch to designate "criminal street gangs" and then strip members of such gangs of virtually all rights;

• Section 101 of H.R. 6095, which gives state and local police authority to investigate, arrest, and detain noncitizens for civil violations of immigration status;

• Sections 301 and 302 of the Ending Catch and Release Act contained in H.R. 6095, which would limit the power of federal courts to grant injunctive relief in civil immigration proceedings, despite acknowledgement by DOJ that such relief does not interfere with efforts to end the practice of catch-and-release.

Posted by VisaLawyer at September 21, 2006 07:01 AM

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