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House of Representatives Immigration Bill H.R. 4437 Would Destroy People, Families, and the Economy: Write To Your Congress People

If the new bill passed by the House of Representatives, H. R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, becomes law, it would do violence to immigrants and their families, making them criminals for living in the United States. It would also make criminals out of anyone who helps immigrants.

Under this bill those who “shield or offer support to” undocumented immigrants would be called felons and be subject to mandatory five-year sentences, even if no profit is involved and the Good Samaritan does not know the person is undocumented. The language is so broad that it could include a church worker or organization that gives food or clothing to a poor family, a bus driver, a lawyer who talks to an immigrant, a teacher of an English class, or a person who gives a glass of water to a person stumbling across the border. Where profit is involved, the sentence would be twenty years.

H.R. 4437 also expands mandatory detention and expedited removal, placing immigrants and asylum-seekers at risk, including battered women. Anyone can be detained who appears to be an immigrant. It requires the Department of Homeland Security to erect 700 miles of fencing along our southern border and state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration law.

Criticism of this bill has brought together the Catholic Church and business in a new way. The Scriptures and Church teaching insist that Christians welcome the stranger and at least keep people from starving or living in the streets. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce and agricultural growers point out that there will be no one to do the work and the U. S. economy will be devastated if this bill becomes law. The need for full-time service workers is great. What is called “illegal” immigration is so because only 5,000 visas are given each year when the annual flow of such workers is estimated at 500,000.

The Senate is about to pass a bill on this issue. Please write to your Senators and ask that a less destructive immigration law be passed and to your representative in Congress to express disappointment in H.R. 4437. Ask them to abandon this harmful bill and pass comprehensive immigration reform which is human and repairs our broken immigration system.

To Contact Your Senators and Representative

U. S. Senate: http://www.

Contacting the Congress: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform (www.
justiceforimmigrants.org) provides specifics on H. R. 4437 along with more positive possibilities for immigration reform.

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