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Dear Editor:
The following statement was released by the National Immigration Forum.

The House Republican Leadership’s bill being marked up in the Judiciary Committee and other committees is a disaster. It recycles an anti-immigration wish list from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party and attempts to wrap up this partisan agenda in the bipartisan recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. The House Republican leadership is undermining the achievements of the distinguished 9-11 Commission by attempting to disguise harsh proposals targeting immigrants and ethnic communities under the cover of anti-terrorism. It is not only bad politics on the eve of the election, it is an irresponsible indulgence that will make us less safe and could cost the country dearly. We applaud the Commission’s thoughtful and balanced approach to immigration policy and urge the House Republican leadership to heed the Commission’s wisdom, “Our borders and immigration system, including law enforcement, ought to send a message of welcome, tolerance, and justice to members of immigrant communities in the United States and in their countries of origin.” In contrast, the House Leadership proposal betrays the partisan nature of that legislative body and the desire of some in the Republican Party to use the 9-11 Commission as cover for their anti-immigration agenda. The bill’s authors have apparently backed off their most radical ideas, such as drafting all local police into enforcing federal civil immigration statutes, but would still erode civil rights, restrict legal immigration, do away with due process, and expedite the deportation of long-time immigrants. In particular, one proposal attributed by House Leadership to the 9-11 Commission is the expedited deportation of any immigrant suspected of entering the country illegally within the last five years. If passed, these “drive-by deportations,” aimed at potentially millions of immigrant families, and conducted by immigration agents rather than immigration judges, will seriously erode any pretense of allowing immigrants a day in court and a chance to defend themselves. This alone will shock and terrify immigrant communities as they begin to realize they are squarely in the crosshairs of a new and vigorous backlash, spearheaded by the Republican Party. We hope the House Leadership will decide to respect the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. The goal is to win the war on terrorism, not to wage a war on America’s newcomers. We will evaluate legislation carefully against the yardstick set forth by the 9-11 Commission, “The border and immigration system of the United States must remain a visible manifestation of our belief in freedom, democracy, global economic growth, and the rule of law, yet serve equally well as a vital element of counterterrorism.”

Angela Kelley, Deputy Director
National Immigration Forum

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