Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Immigration Bills on House and Senate floors this week

Immigration bills, particularly anti-immigrant bills, tend to get introduced and voted upon in a short period of time. Last week, the House introduced H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act, in one day, then passed it the next day. The following are immigration bills in the House and the Senate this week which are priorities for Irish Americans.

HR 6089, Illegal Alien Deterrence Act of 2006 - OPPOSE
This bill would encourage state and local law enforcement to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, or transfer to federal custody immigrants who they suspect of violating immigration laws. It would also overturn two Supreme Court decisions that currently prevent unlawful indefinite detention of noncitizens. If passed, it would permit the indefinite and perhaps permanent detention of noncitizens who cannot be deported due to no fault of their own.

HR 6090, Effective Immigration Enforcement and Community Protection Act of 2006 – OPPOSE
This bill would eviscerate the federal court’s ability to grant meaningful relief in any immigration litigation, including those brought by U.S. companies or U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family members of immigrants to correct clear violations of immigration law by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or other agencies.

HR 6091, Border Security Enhancement Act of 2006 - OPPOSE
The most problematic provision in this bill would allow immigration officers to use expedited removal on anyone whom they believe to be a noncitizen
1) who has not been inspected or paroled,
2) is not admissible based on a criminal ground (a conviction would not be required),
3) does not have a credible fear of persecution, and
4) is not eligible for a waiver or relief from removal. In addition, someone being deported under this process would only have seven days after the order is issued before they can be removed from the U.S. without appeals or process.

The severe curtailment of Due Process in this provision will lead to erroneous removal of people who should not have been deported, such as U.S. citizens who could not quickly provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, or an abused spouse or child who could not quickly show their eligibility for relief under the Violence Against Women Act) or someone who was not in fact inadmissible due to a criminal ground of inadmissibility but could not timely hire a lawyer who knew the complex case law that governed his or her admissibility.

Motion to invoke Cloture on HR 6061, the Secure Fence Act – OPPOSE
This bill would require DHS to build 700 miles of double-layered fences and barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. It also would authorize a "virtual fence" of unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors, cameras and other surveillance technology along the border.
Tackling border security in a piecemeal fashion such as this bill will not solve our broken immigration system. Fencing alone will not solve our problem with undocumented immigration unless the underlying causes are addressed. Fences and other measures should be discussed in the context of comprehensive immigration reform.

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