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This Week's Letters to the Editor

December 22, 2005

Bill Will Harm Immigrants

A term like "illegal alien invasion" brings to mind movies that portray creatures from outer space attacking our planet. It is truly a heartless term when used for our brothers and sisters who are struggling to feed their families, living in shanties at best, working for less than $1 a day. It is with great concern and disappointment that I see that House bill H.R. 4437 passed on Friday. I too supported the defeat of House bill H.R. 4437 but for very different reasons from Mr. Akers [Our Readers Write ... or Wrong, Dec. 15].

H.R. 4437 will bring about severe and unjust consequences for immigrants and the nation. It is an overly broad and extremely punitive bill that is far broader in scope than illegal immigration. It will unduly harm immigrants and their families, including immigrants who currently are lawfully residing in the United States. And it will pose grave risk to immigrant children and people fleeing persecution.

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There are some particularly egregious provisions of the measure. H.R. 4437 will deny basic due process protections to legal immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers. The expansion of expedited removal to within 100 miles of U.S. land borders could result in the return of bona fide asylum-seekers to their persecutors without providing them access to a qualified adjudicator.

In addition, Sections 201 and 203, taken together, will make "unlawful presence" a crime, rather than a civil violation, as it is under current law. It is a strongly held view that the overwhelming majority of migrants who are in the United States without legal status are not criminals but are trying to contribute to our country through their hard work. This provision would needlessly clog our courts and other law enforcement systems with needless litigation and adjudication; foreclose the option that many might have to legalize their status; and cause great harm to migrants who did not come to the United States illegally by their own choice.

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