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Helping the Poor, the Immigrant, the Injured May Be Considered Treason (According to House Bill H. R. 4437)

We had just returned from visiting our sick men’s houses, where many of our guests live who are greatly disabled and rejected by our society, to read in the Houston Chronicle 12/17/05 that the House of Representatives (not the Senate) had passed a bill that would declare all of these men common criminals and subject to a year in prison because they were undocumented. They would become felons-if this bill becomes law.

The many paralyzed-quadraplegics–who have fallen from scaffolds while working on buildings in Houston could now be easily imprisoned and then deported.

In this new legislation there is a tremendous expansion of what constitutes smuggling and harboring-giving a cigarette or a sandwich or a glass of water to an immigrant may be reason enough to make one a felon.

In one grand sweep, our representatives solved the immigration problem by creating as suspects any Spanish-speaking person who lives and works in the United States, not to mention those who look Hispanic.

The Brownsville Herald stated, “If the promoters of this legislation get their way, the immigrant workers who build homes, clean hotel rooms, work in landscaping, and toil in manufacturing jobs will be lumped with some of the worst criminals in this country.”

Many new industries will have to be developed to care for the offenders. Just imagine how many prison hospitals would have to be built just to care for the sick and injured immigrants who have already been rejected and left to suffer or die on their own. They number in the thousands.

Wouldn’t that be an irony? Once they are declared criminals, society will be required to serve them in prisons after years of deliberate neglect.

More prisons would have to be constructed for all the carpenters and cement workers who have built all these condominiums and town houses that now engulf us in Houston. The builders, you can be sure, would arrange for the avoidance of arrest until the buildings were complete, because everyone knows who builds the buildings in Houston.

Some, of course, would think this was wonderful-those who place buildings and running prisons as a great part of the Gross Domestic Product. The prisons could not be built fast enough, of course, to house the millions of “criminals” who today are our best workers.

New offices would have to be set up throughout the United States to receive sightings of “aliens!” Teachers could report undocumented immigrants as they reported anyone who disagreed in Communist countries. Emergency room doctors could report the very sickest to be taken to prison.

The courts would be so clogged with good people now called criminals that robbers and murderers would not be able to be brought to trial.

Those who designed this legislation have saved the best consequences for last as part of their plot. They believe that mandatory prison sentences of up to five years should be imposed on church groups and employers and workers in social services agencies who assist immigrants with their most basic needs.

Mixed with the immigrant felons would be white collar workers who stayed true to their calling.

As a Representative from Texas who opposed the bill said in the House of Representatives, “If on some silent night, when all is calm and all is bright a young man and a clearly pregnant woman, from out of town, ask if they can rest by your manger – be warned! first verify their visas.”
M.L.Z., L.Y.Z.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, January-February 2006.