U.S. Bishop Condemns Republicans Plan To Banish ‘Illegal Aliens’

Hardbeatnews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. Dec. 16, 2005: As House Republicans and Democrats battle over the passage of a tough new immigration bill that would banish undocumented immigrants from the United State, Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, has joined a growing group of organizations and advocates expressing outrage at the measure.

H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 introduced recently by Congressman James Sensenbrenner and rushed for a House vote. The House is set to vote on the bill today. It makes illegal presence in the United States a misdemeanor crime and also outlines increased penalties for smugglers and those re-entering illegally while authorizing police along the border to enforce the immigration law.

But Bishop Barnes is urging President Bush to publicly oppose the bill, which pays not attention to the President’s call for a temporary workers’ program for those looking to work in the U.S. and the millions now living here without working papers.

The enactment of H.R. 4437 would bring about serious and severe consequences for immigrants and the nation, Bishop Barnes, adding. “It is an extremely punitive bill which is far broader than illegal immigration and, if enacted, would unduly harm immigrants and their families, even those who are currently lawful residents.”

Bishop Barnes added that H.R. 4437 does not represent a comprehensive solution to the country’s current immigration crisis because of the “absence of reforms in the U.S. legal immigration system that would address our current immigration problems more comprehensively.”
“A comprehensive solution to our immigration crisis, which includes legal status for migrants and legal avenues for migration, is needed to fix a broken immigration system that exists in our country today,” the Bishop said.

House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, also slammed the bill yesterday, saying while Democrats have long called for strong border security, effective law enforcement and for comprehensive immigration reform, “…not this punitive, mean-spirited legislation that does nothing to weed out terrorists.”

And she questioned why “one bad bill after another come to the House floor,” instead of the comprehensive bipartisan reform of the Secure America and Border Protection Act, presented by Congress members Jim Kolbe and Luis Gutierrez, that is also sponsored in the Senate by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy.

Late yesterday, Republicans were still seeking support among their ranks for the bill’s full passage with Sensenbrenner stating, “Those people who are against this bill don’t want any changes in the existing system except perhaps amnesty, or, excuse me, `earned legalization,’ or perhaps citizenship for those who have broken the law.”

The White House meanwhile stressed it’s strong support for the House bill but added that it “remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform, including a temporary worker program that avoids amnesty.” – Hardbeatnews.com