With the recent approval of bill HR 4437 at the Lower House, the U.S. illegal immigrant community is shocked by the possibility of a new immigration reform policy that could displace an estimated 10 million of them living in the U.S. today. Bill HR 4437, The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 sponsored by the Republicans in December 2005 is now being deliberated in the Senate and might just pass into law. At an emotionally charged rally of 100,000 immigrants in Chicago, people were carrying placards saying : “ My Mexican immigrant son died in Iraq”, “Do not deport my parents”. The illegal immigrant is truly fearful of the consequences of the bill. HR 4437 would be the most drastic immigration law to be passed because it criminalizes undocumented immigration status as well as individuals and organizations assisting undocumented immigrants. It also grants state and law enforcement agencies authority to enforce immigration laws, an authority which today solely rests with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency . In a 20/20 episode on illegal immigrants I watched a few months ago, state troopers in Georgia expressed extreme frustration with the curent law that prohibits them from investigating the immigration status of an apprehended lawbreaker. The new law would be devastating to the illegal immigrant. A simple traffic violation could trigger an investigation of residency status and could end up in jail time and deportation.
In Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony had already made a vow that he will fight HR 4437 head on. In a TV interview I watched, he declared that everyone in the U.S. other than the aboriginal American Indian is an immigrant and Mexicans who cross the border illegally to seek for a better life have all the right to remain in America. No one will ever question Fr. Mahony’s overwhelming compassion, if his church provides food and shelter to illegal immigrants. Fr. Mahony must not forget however that Scriptures explicitly instructs Christians to obey God and the law of the land as well. Not cooperating with the government violates the law and is contrary to the teachings of Scripture.
The illegal immigration dilemma in the U.S. is a power keg that will burst sooner or later, with dire consequences if left unchecked. The tremendous burden on the health care system to aid immigrants who get sick without health insurance, the erosion of unksilled labor wages in areas where illegal immigrants proliferate are serious problems that ought to concern every American. The immigration policy is not without flaw. The U.S. needs to revamp and improve its immigration system, particularly in the area of family reunion and skilled labor shortage requirements to make it easier for people to join their relatives and immigrate to work in jobs that cannot be filled from within. A streamlined system will encourage people to take the proper and legal steps to apply rather than taking a short cut, staying illegally and soliciting the help of immigration lawyers and consultants who charge and arm and a leg for their services and worst, without guaranteed results.
HR 4437 also proposes a 700 mile extension of the Mexican border fence. The U.S. border is truly porous and the 2,000 mile stretch with Mexico can never be guarded effectively. The Canadian side is even worse, where the border crosses 4 time zones, perhaps twice as long as the Mexican border. A house in New Brunswick, Canada actually sits at the border with the state of Maine. Half of the lot is in Canada – half in the U.S. ! Some border outposts in the Quebec-Vermont border are actually unmanned and periodically checked by the RCMP and this goes true with many border outposts all the way to the west, up to British Columbia. Some terrorists allegedly came to the U.S. via Canada. Fact is, a well financed and organized terrorist group can enter the U.S. from land, air and sea without much hindrances. A German sub that sunk off the U.S. Atlantic coast in WWII was found to contain U.S. beer and food supplies which confirmed that the crew had forayed into coastal towns for their impromptu rest and recreation leaves.
The effectiveness of HR 4437 if passed remains to be seen. Some view it as a Republican election agenda. If the gay marriage issue worked, perhaps restrictive immigration might also work, especially appealing for those Americans who have been struggling to “reclaim” America.
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