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[Read More Articles] | [print this article] Sign Up for Immigration Reform
The Senate Judiciary Committee (the Committee) continues to deliberate on a comprehensive immigration reform plan proposed by its Chairman, Senator Arlen Specter. It is scheduled to have its last mark-up session on March 16 and must submit a bill to the full Senate by March 27. This won't be easy, as Senator Sam Brownback reportedly said, We've got to do both: Increase enforcement and create a positive track.

If the Committee fails to come up with an immigration reform bill, Senator Frist's enforcement bill will be the proposal debated by the full Senate.

Filipino Community Action

We need to launch a petition campaign wherein we would sign up as organizations. The petition will be mailed to President George Bush and to the Committee members. We must mail the petition letter as soon as possible. We need to act before the Committee votes on its bill.

As a group that will be directly affected by immigration reform efforts, the Filipino American community must consolidate its stand and relentlessly campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA, See http://www.naffaa.org/) is spearheading a petition campaign for comprehensive immigration reform. Filipino and other immigrant organizations are encouraged to participate in this campaign by submitting the name and address of their organization to NaFFAA or to this author (http://seguritan.com).

These organizations will sign an open letter to President Bush that is currently being circulated by NaFFAA, asking him to take the lead in formulating an immigration reform that will address not just the economic and national security needs, but the plight of 11 million undocumented immigrants.

There are many courses of action that the Filipino community can take either individually or in groups. For instance, they can make an appointment with senators to persuade them to work towards comprehensive immigration reform. They can also write to each Committee member. This author can be emailed for the contact details of the Committee members.

Opposing H.R. 4437

We need to give our feedback on this issue because the restrictionists, though few, are rather vocal about keeping immigration flow at a minimum, if not stopping it altogether, until enforcement measures against undocumented aliens are in place.

We must drown out anti-immigrant voices with a clear and unified voice that opposes the draconian provisions of H.R. 4437. At the same time, we must fully support the bipartisan initiative of Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy to legalize undocumented immigrants and fix our broken immigration system.

Whether we speak up or not, an immigration reform law will be passed within the year. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives was swayed by the rantings of anti-immigrants among its ranks. Restrictionist Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Co) is reportedly in the thick of his own nationwide campaign against illegal immigration.

H.R. 4437 is a dangerous bill. If passed into law, the undocumented as well as anyone who assists them will be considered felons.

It is not only in the interest of undocumented immigrants to look for ways to prevent the passage of H.R. 4437 into law. The bill's insidious provisions directly affect US citizens and permanent residents as well.

The public has denounced the drastic measures in H.R. 4437. The City Council of Clevelend, for instance, passed an emergency resolution opposing the bill. Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, even called upon the Catholic faithful to defy the law if H.R. 4437 succeeds in Congress, reminding them of the Catholic calling to attend to the last, littlest, lowest and least in society and in the Church.

At this stage, there is still an opportunity to defeat this bill. The Committee has four immigration reform bills to work with, namely, the McCain-Kennedy Bill, the Cornyn-Kyl Bill, the Hagel immigration reform package and the proposal of Committee Chairman, Senator Specter.

The most realistic solutions to the problems created by our broken immigration system is offered by the McCain-Kennedy Bill.

Public Support for Immigration Reform

Organizations from across all sectors have come forward in support of comprehensive immigration reform and legislators would do well to heed the public.

Among the organizations that have issued statements backing immigration reform efforts are faith groups such as the National Council of Churches, USA; the Union for Reform Judaism; the National Association of Evangelicals; and the Jewish Community Organization; and various Catholic organizations. A statement signed by more than 200 faith-based organizations nationwide has also been issued in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Health Association, Catholic Relief Services, Irish Apostolate USA, Jesuit Conference, Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have jointly issued a statement supporting the McCain-Kennedy Bill.

Thirty national and local Jewish associations have likewise issued a statement calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law.

Business and labor organizations have likewise weighed in. These organizations include the American Hotel and Lodging Association (composed on 450,000 establishments nationwide); the National Restaurant Association; National Council of Chain Restaurants; Associated Builders and Contractors, American Meat Institute, American Nursery and Landscape Association; Essential Worker Immigration Coalition; National Association of Home Builders; National Roofing Contractors Association; Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association; Service Employees International Union; the Society of American Florists; United Farm Workers of America; United Food and Commercial Workers Union; the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Numerous Latino organizations have ongoing campaigns for comprehensive immigration reform. Even the 18-member Western Governor's Association, already announced that because the component states are directly affected by the flow of undocumented immigrants, it will be backing comprehensive immigration reform

We must act now and add our voice to the many others that have spoken against the harsh enforcement-only measures of H.R. 4437. At the same time, we must push hard for the bipartisan McCain-Kennedy Bill.
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