Reject the “Secure America’s Borders Act” (S. 2454)
Recipient: U.S. Senate
On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, we call upon you to reject the “Secure America’s Borders Act” (S. 2454) and instead enact fair, comprehensive immigration reform that genuinely protects the civil rights of immigrants and fixes our nation’s broken immigration system.
LCCR believes that immigration policy is a matter of tremendous importance to the civil rights community. The entire history of the civil rights movement has been rooted in the principle that there can be no such thing as second-class Americans. Yet for too long, our immigration laws have created a two-tiered society, perpetuating both racial and ethnic discrimination. This is unacceptable, as immigrants have always been essential to our success as a nation.
In recent weeks, our nation has witnessed massive demonstrations and rallies, on a scale unlike anything we have seen since the civil rights era, in favor of preserving the rights of all immigrants and in strong opposition to restrictionist legislative proposals currently pending in Congress. Bills like S. 2454 as well as H.R. 4437, which passed the House of Representatives in December, have already sent widespread ripples of fear throughout American immigrant communities. In response, those communities have taken to the streets to call for solutions that honor the great tradition of the civil rights and human rights movement in this country.
We were pleased with the response we saw from the Senate Committee on the Judiciary earlier this week. In a bipartisan and fair-minded fashion, the committee reported out legislation, the so-called “chairman’s mark,” which puts undocumented workers on the road to legal status and rejects the punitive “criminalization” approach of S. 2454 and H.R. 4437. We commend Chairman Specter and his colleagues for heeding the message of the protests and for coming up with a more evenhanded proposal.
As the full Senate considers the chairman’s mark, also known as the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006,” we urge you to continue pushing for fair, humane approaches to immigration reform. While the chairman’s mark represents a major improvement over S. 2454, it does contain a number of provisions that raise profound concerns. For example, the bill would:
- Overturn Supreme Court decisions that prohibit the indefinite detention of immigrants;
- Expand the government’s authority to remove immigrants, even asylum seekers, without any judicial process;
- Treat minor offenses as so-called “aggravated felonies,” which triggers harsh mandatory detention and deportation proceedings;
- Give local police inherent authority to enforce complicated immigration laws, which would undermine community policing efforts and efforts to fight violent crime.
We hope that such concerns will be addressed as the Senate moves forward with immigration reform. Congress will be judged for decades to come on whether it bows to restrictionists and treats immigrants as criminals, or creates a stronger and more unified America that continues to welcome immigrants and provides them with meaningful ways to move towards citizenship.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Nancy Zirkin, LCCR Deputy Director, at 202-263-2880, or Rob Randhava, LCCR Counsel, at 202-466-6058. We look forward to working with you.