PROGRESSIVES PUSH TO REVISIT AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS
NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
December 20, 2009
© 2009 NewsWithViews.com
[NewsWithViews.com dispatched a reporter to cover a press event held by lawmakers who support amnesty for illegal aliens]
"I believe the support base for this kind of compassionate and comprehensive legislation is strong and far reaching, and I believe the votes are there to pass it. I have always said that immigration reform will not be easy; but it is time we had a workable plan working its way through Congress that recognizes the vast contributions of immigrants to this country and that honors the American Dream." - Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).
US Lawmakers who continue to call for immigration reform claimed at press conference and rally that the current economic debacle should not deter legislation legalizing illegal immigrants. The Congressmen have been actively talking to advocacy and civil rights groups, faith-based groups, labor groups and their colleagues on the Hill ¬-- ¬particularly members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) -- to identify the most essential components of such a comprehensive bill.
A coalition of Democrats led by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Rep. Michael Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus stated that fixing the immigration system can help American workers as well, although they fell short of actually spelling out how it would help American citizens.
These leaders proposed that illegal immigrants register with the US government, pay a $500 fine for each adult, learn English, pass background checks and meet other requirements. Then they would become eligible for a special six-year visa followed by access to a green card.
"We simply cannot wait any longer for a bill that keeps our families together, protects our workers and allows a pathway to legalization for those who have earned it," said Rep. Gutierrez. "Saying immigration is a priority for this Administration or this Congress is not the same as seeing tangible action, and the longer we wait, the more every single piece of legislation we debate will be obstructed by our failure to pass comprehensive reform."
"We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you; but if you are here to work hard and to make a better life for your family, you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship. We need a law that says it is un-American for a mother to be torn from her child, and it is unacceptable to undermine our workforce by driving the most vulnerable among us further into the shadows," said Gutierrez.
In the past, Rep. Gutierrez called US Border Patrol agents "the Gestapo" and likened immigration enforcement to Nazi Germany. He's been supported by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who characterized immigration enforcement as being "un-American."
"I believe the support base for this kind of compassionate and comprehensive legislation is strong and far reaching, and I believe the votes are there to pass it. I have always said that immigration reform will not be easy; but it is time we had a workable plan working its way through Congress that recognizes the vast contributions of immigrants to this country and that honors the American Dream," he stated at the event titled "Immigration Rally & Outlining of Core Bill Principles."
But some attendees asked about the crime being committed by a large number of illegal aliens already in the US, including gang violence.
The US Justice Department estimates there are over 750,000 gang members who are illegal aliens and over 27,000 gangs that are comprised of illegal aliens and visa-overstays -- people who came into the US legally, but remained after expiration of their visas.
The escalation in alien crime has placed added demands on state and local law enforcement personnel. Effective identification of aliens involved in crime requires familiarity with fraudulent documentation. Proper arrest procedures must be carried out, and complex notification and reporting requirements must be satisfied; otherwise, dangerous aliens can escape prosecution and deportation. Handling the myriad problems associated with alien crimes is often beyond the capabilities of local police departments.
More than two-thirds of the illegal alien defendants charged with an immigration offense were identified as having been previously arrested. Thirty-six percent had been arrested on at least 5 prior occasions; 22%, 2 to 4 times; and 12%,1 time.
Sixty-one percent of those defendants had been convicted at least once; 18%, 5 or more times; 26%, 2 to 4 times; and 17%, 1 time. Of those charged, 49% had previously been convicted of a felony: 20% of a drug offense; 18%, a violent offense; and 11%, other felony offenses. Twelve percent had previously been convicted of a misdemeanor.
Defendants charged with unlawful reentry had the most extensive criminal histories. Nine in ten had been previously arrested. Of those with a prior arrest, half had been arrested on at least 5 prior occasions.
percent of those charged with a reentry offense had previously been
convicted of a violent or drug-related felony. By contrast, under half
of those charged with alien smuggling, a third of those charged with
unlawful entry, and just over a quarter those charged with misuse of
visas and other charges had previously been arrested.
The criminal histories of these defendants were generally less extensive: more than 70% had been previously arrested fewer than 5 times.
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