December 16, 2005

Hispanic Caucus, Asian Pacific American Caucus and Rep. Jackson Lee Speak Out Against Ill-conceived, Enforcement-only Immigration Bill

Washington, DC - At a press conference held today, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) joined in solidarity with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to strongly oppose the Border and Immigration Enforcement Act, H.R. 4437, which is expected on the House floor this week. Members speaking at the press event included Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, chair of the CHC; Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, chair of the CHC Immigration Task Force; Rep. Mike Honda, chair of CAPAC; Rep. Neil Abercrombie, chair of the CAPAC Immigration Task Force; and Rep. Jackson Lee.

“The Sensenbrenner bill is a vicious and vile attack on our nation’s hardworking immigrant community,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez. “This horrible piece of legislation is not only ill-conceived and fundamentally flawed, but it also will not fix our nation’s broken immigration system. We need a comprehensive approach that not only protects our borders, but that also reflects our nation’s proud history of welcoming men and women to seek a better life and that respects the enormous contributions immigrants make every day to our communities.”

Rather than offering real solutions to the broken immigration system, HR 4437 demonizes and punishes hard-working immigrants. Introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, this bill continues on the wrong path of immigration policy as it ignores reality and fails to address the need for real comprehensive reform. The CHC, CAPAC and Rep. Jackson Lee believe a better approach to immigration policy is a border security PLUS approach that protects our borders, respects American values of reuniting families, and provides earned legalization for immigrants who have proven to be law abiding members of our society.

“If H.R. 4437 becomes law, Asians and other immigrants will not be able to challenge arbitrary denials of citizenship in the federal courts, nor will they be able to reunite their families after years of backlogs,” said CAPAC Chair Mike Honda. “Fixing our immigration system means upholding American values, and this legislation does little to bring long-separated families together or to enhance our nation’s security.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee stated, “I am very disappointed in the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, H.R. 4437. We know from numerous visits to the border and years of experience that an ‘enforcement only’ approach to immigration reform will not work. This bill takes that approach, in a frivolous manner, and it does so in a mean spirited manner. For instance, we all know that 8 to 14 million undocumented immigrants are living and working within the shadows of our society. H.R. 4437 includes provisions that would make such unlawful presence a criminal offense. That is not a ‘comprehensive’ response, but an outrageous one.”

Among the bill’s provisions the CHC finds most detrimental are: the extension of mandatory detention to all non-citizens detained at a port of entry or along the border; making unlawful presence a crime as well as an aggravated felony; and the expansion of expedited removal.

The CHC has a long-standing history of dealing with and understanding the border and immigrant community. Based on that knowledge and decades of experience, the CHC has established guiding principles, which ensure that immigration and border security legislation upholds the humanity, civility and integrity of all Americans.

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