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March 27, 2006

More on the Immigration Issue

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets today to tackle the issue of illegal immigration.  The massive rallies around the country over the last week may have changed the equation for them. Complicating the issue for Republicans: one of the prime sponsors is the Catholic Church.  Nina Bernstein at the NYT has an article up this morning that says:

One of the most powerful institutions behind the wave of public protests has been the Roman Catholic Church, lending organizational muscle to a spreading network of grass-roots coalitions. In recent weeks, the church has unleashed an army of priests and parishioners to push for the legalization of the nation's illegal immigrants, sending thousands of postcards to members of Congress and thousands of parishioners into the streets.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Congressman James Sennenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and already passed by the House, would make it a felony to be in the U.S. without proper papers, and would make it a federal crime to aid illegal immigrants. That's a lot of people impacted given there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living here now.  If this law were to pass, all of these folks would be considered felons as would anyone in their family or community who tried to assist them.

Demonstrators, backed by the Catholic Church (heh, glad to have them back in the fray supporting social justice issues), are demanding that illegal immigrants instead be given a path to citizenship. 

It is being pressed as never before by immigrants who were long thought too fearful of deportation to risk so public a display.

"It's unbelievable," said Partha Banerjee, director of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network, who was in Washington yesterday to help plan more nationwide protests on April 10. "People are joining in so spontaneously, it's almost like the immigrants have risen. I would call it a civil rights movement reborn in this country."


"It's an entirely predictable example of the law of unintended consequences," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, who helped organize the Chicago rally and who said he was shocked by the size of the turnout. "The Republican party made a decision to use illegal immigration as the wedge issue of 2006, and the Mexican community was profoundly offended."

An enormous offended Hispanic community can't help the Republicans.

Paul Krugman, in an opinion piece behind the NYT wall, says this is a very real issue that we need to look at.  It is not an easy one on either side.  However, he also says that the Sensenbrenner bill is immoral.  And says this about Bush's competing proposal for guest workers:

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

Sometimes it's amazing how much is going on at once.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 27, 2006 at 09:25 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink


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If Jim Sensenbrenner gets his way on every issue (he also sponsored the snitch legislation which required mandatory federal prison sentences for people who are aware of drug use and don't report it), about 75% of Americans would be potential criminals. The man has become an unhinged menace.

Posted by: thehim | Mar 28, 2006 2:27:53 PM

it is interesting, how you people scream all the time about the division of the church and the state, but ignore the issue when it suits your interests. the ILLEGALS are here ILLEGALLY, therefore they should be fearful of being deported. i would. either we have a LAW abiding society or we do not. the numbers of protesters? does it mean that if ANY lawbreaking group is large and organized enough, its members have the right to the amnesty too? as far as the jobs go, my son is disabled and working in the janitorial industry. he lost several jobs to the illegals. i am PROFOUNDLY OFFENDED by it and FEARFUL for his future and other people like him.

Posted by: sidonie winter-pasternak | May 13, 2006 1:05:39 PM

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