Protest HR4437 On Monday
Tomorrow, I will again be helping immigrants achieve citizenship by reviewing their applications at a workshop from 8am to 2pm. Other law-minded people (lawyers, law students, etc.) are welcome (and encouraged) to attend.
Having said that, on International Workers Day, Monday, May 1 there will be major immigrant rights actions in cities across America (scroll down). Chicago is no exception, and I will be there with some friends, helping total attendance to dwarf that at the March 10 demonstration. Organizers differ on whether or not to skip work or school, I suppose it is a personal choice, I will not be working (unless somebody gives me a job before then), check with area organizers for more information.
The real reason for this post is to explain why these protests are happening. Many believe that for some reason, illegal aliens are suddenly demanding citizenship. As most of you know, the sudden uproar among the immigrant community was caused by Congressman Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) infamous H.R. 4437, a draconian measure that, among other things, would make it a felony for the U.S. born child of undocumented immigrants not to turn in her parents for deportation. Interestingly, the bill is not mentioned on the Congressman's website, immigration is not even listed among the "issues".
H.R. 4437 passed the House last December, and as more has been learned of it during Senate debate, people across America have become irate over the legislation. The Protest in Chicago last March sparked a fire that quickly consumed the nation, May 1st will be less a climax than an encouraging push, a sign of things to come.
What follows is my breakdown of the controversial legislation, I don't recall which version I used, but I believe it was the one referred to the Senate by the House (because it makes sense that I would have picked that one). I wrote this hastily and in a less formal context a few months ago, but I've learned my interpretation is not unique. (takes me back to my days as a Legislative Analyst):
SEC. 274. (a) Criminal Offenses and Penalties-
`(1) PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES- Whoever--
...`(C) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States;
so you can't rent a place, sell or loan a car, give a job, teach english, or do a bunch of other things, possibly even give directions, sell a winter coat, deliver mail, sell food to, or a bunch of other things that assist someone to reside here to someone with an accent without asking first for proof of legal status;
`(D) transports or moves a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter or be in the United States, where the transportation or movement will aid or further in any manner the person's illegal entry into or illegal presence in the United States;
so a restaurant employee needs to check a co-worker's papers before giving them a ride to work, or give anybody a ride to or from a Greyhound or Amtrak station, or possibly anywhere else without checking their status;
...`(F) transports, moves, harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person outside of the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien in unlawful transit from one country to another or on the high seas, under circumstances in which the person is in fact seeking to enter the United States without official permission or lawful authority; or
so a foreign friend or relative of someone trying to come here unlawfully is somehow a criminal under our law for things they did abroad (not sure how they plan to enforce that...)
`(G) conspires or attempts to commit any of the preceding acts,
in, fact... don't even THINK about it!
shall be punished as provided in paragraph (2), regardless of any official action which may later be taken with respect to such alien.
`(2) CRIMINAL PENALTIES- A person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1) shall--
`(A) except as provided in subparagraphs (D) through (H), in the case where the offense was not committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain, be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
this is what happens if you are doing any of these things as a favor
`(B) except as provided in subparagraphs (C) through (H), where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain--
`(i) in the case of a first violation of this subparagraph, be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and
`(ii) for any subsequent violation, be imprisoned for not less than 3 years nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
this is what happens to someone who rents or sells something to an alien under the above without checking status first, god help you if you're a landlord
`(C) in the case where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain and involved 2 or more aliens other than the offender, be imprisoned for not less than 3 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
god help a landlord renting to a family!
`(3) EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION- There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over the offenses described in this subsection.
this means we're serious about that regulating what foreigners do abroad thing
`(b) Employment of Unauthorized Aliens-
`(1) IN GENERAL- Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens described in paragraph (2), shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.
grapes could get very expensive...
...`(c) Seizure and Forfeiture-
`(1) IN GENERAL- Any property, real or personal, that has been used to commit or facilitate the commission of a violation of this section, the gross proceeds of such violation, and any property traceable to such property or proceeds, shall be subject to forfeiture.
hope you weren't too fond of that building, mr. landlord...
...`(f) Definitions- For purposes of this section:
`(1) The term `lawful authority' means permission, authorization, or license that is expressly provided for in the immigration laws of the United States or the regulations prescribed thereunder. Such term does not include any such authority secured by fraud or otherwise obtained in violation of law, nor does it include authority that has been sought but not approved. No alien shall be deemed to have lawful authority to come to, enter, reside, remain, or be in the United States if such coming to, entry, residence, remaining, or presence was, is, or would be in violation of law.
this might mean that you're supposed to assume papers are fake or possibly run afoul of the "reckless disregard" language
the "reckless disregard" language means relatives of aliens are less free to do any of these things, if my cousin flew up from Argentina and asked me for a ride from point a to point b, I would have to check the expiration on her visa before agreeing to anything, and if the visa were expired I would have to turn her in. If I bumped into an Argentine relative somewhere I couldn't buy them lunch, or in an extreme case even bum them a smoke before asking them about their legal status.
I'm not saying these things will all happen, nobody knows how the law would be enforced in reality, but what's troubling to many (including me) is having a law that would allow for even the possibility. A lot of people in America, citizens or not, have friends and family overseas that they have not seen in many, many years. I am among these Americans, and if I run into a long-lost friend or relative, or hear from one of them that he or she is in town, my first instinct is to meet up, to grab a meal, to catch up, to help out in any way, I think this is the normal way for anyone to react.
I have a problem with a law that requires me to ask for proof of status before I can help a childhood friend that I haven't seen in 20 years, or a cousin I haven't seen in 5. If one of them should do something illegal, I don't think I should be required to find out and turn them in. I have a problem with a law that requires us to be suspicious of friends and family, and to turn them in if our suspicions aren't satisfied.
I have a problem with a law that says parents must refuse aid to their children. I have a problem with a law that says children can be illegal. That is why I'll be marching downtown on Monday."
If you've made it this far, you're probably my Dad (hola Papit!), and as a reward, photos of downtown Chicago circa March 10 (courtesy of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights)