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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Immigrant Rights

HR 4437 Attacks Our Community: Act Now to Unite Our Community for Civil and Human Rights
by semillas
Sunday Mar 19th, 2006 12:26 PM
Many organizations and individuals are realizing more and more that the Federal and State governments' attacks on immigrant communities and people of color MUST STOP NOW! In this article you will find ways to promote and celebrate immigrant, migrants, and people of color, San Francisco based Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)'s summary of HR 4437, and ways to ACT NOW to STOP HR 4437.

Many organizations and individuals are realizing more and more that the Federal and State governments' attacks on immigrant communities and people of color MUST STOP NOW! In this article you will find ways to promote and celebrate immigrant, migrants, and people of color, San Francisco based Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)'s summary of HR 4437, and ways to ACT NOW to STOP HR 4437.


Ways to promote and celebrate immigrants, migrants, and people of color communities:

Rally:

3/24, Watsonville 5pm VIGIL FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS! OPPOSE HR 4437! MAIN PLAZA WATSONVILLE, CA 95076. Candlelight vigil and rally for Immigrant rights and in opposition to HR 4437.

3/25, Watsonville to Salinas. Guerrero Azteca Peace March: Meet at St. Patrick's Church @ 10AM 721 Main Street Watsonville, CA 95076. March from Watsonville to Pajaro 11 until NOON. NOON- 1: CARAVAN TO SALINAS...by bus and cars. Arrive in Salinas 2:00

Cesar Chavez Park 250 North Madeira Avenue. March until 3:00. 3-4 Rally/ Music

3/26-27 San Francisco, Guerrero Azteca Peace March arrives

4/17, Watsonville Youth and Power, 6-11pm, Watsonville Veteran's Center

4/29, Santa Cruz Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar, BENEFIT FOR RCNV SANTA CRUZ COMMUNITY YOUTH SOCCER LEAGUE


Talk to your friends and make new friends to cultivate a united, welcoming community for people of all nationalities and colors.


ILRC comprehensive summary the important and action-inspiring points of HR 4437:


* HR 4437 turns many minor crimes into aggravated felonies, which carry the worst possible immigration consequences


Because aggravated felonies are supposed to be reserved for the worst and most violent of crimes such as murder and rape, they carry the most serious immigration consequences. HR 4437 would make makes minor offenses aggravated felonies, with same concomitant consequences. As a result, misdemeanor drunk driving offenses, mere presence in the United States without documentation, assisting an undocumented immigrant to reside in the United States, and minor accessory roles in the criminal conduct of others would all qualify as aggravated felonies. Most of these changes would be retroactive, meaning that someone who committed an offense 20 years ago that was not a deportable offense then could be charged with an aggravated felony now. By making these offenses aggravated felonies, HR 4437 seeks to treat those who commit nonviolent, negligent acts or omissions the same as those who have acted with criminal intent to injure. Regardless of whether it is a major or minor crime, the mere characterization as an aggravated felony will trigger the same immigration consequences – mandatory deportation, mandatory detention, disqualification for almost all immigration benefits, permanent banishment from the United States without hope of lawful return, and the inability to present any equities to immigration judges regardless of how long the immigrant has been in the United States and how many ties he or she has here. Those at risk include permanent residents who have lived here lawfully for decades. In addition, because the noncitizen population in the United States is so large and many American families include both immigrants and citizens, these deportations will break up U.S. citizen families without any possibility of reunification.


* HR 4437 expands the consequences of an aggravated felony and other offenses


Despite the current drastic consequences of an aggravated felony, HR 4437 seeks to add more. It would bar an immigrant from establishing good moral character required to become a U.S. citizen if they have an aggravated felony conviction in the past – even if they could prove that at the time the offense occurred it was not characterized as an aggravated felony, and they presently have excellent moral character. Under HR 4437, aggravated felonies would also bar admission to the United States and bar the ability to re-immigrate to the United States via an immediate relative as defense to removal. There would be no waiver available. It would further bar an asylum seeker who has an aggravated felony conviction from ever becoming a permanent resident. These provisions will eliminate the little available relief and benefits for immigrants with aggravated felony convictions who demonstrate rehabilitation and strong family, social and economic ties.


* HR 4437 eliminates key safeguards concerning evidence used to prove that an immigrant is deportable for an aggravated felony


Since 1990, the United States Supreme Court has established guidelines, called the “modified categorical analysis,” for how a court can characterize a prior conviction. While this may sound technical, the categorical analysis is a vital safeguard that protects immigrants from wrongful deportation. It ensures that immigration judges consider only the most reliable information and documents from a prior conviction – and not from facts that were not established at the original criminal trial – to identify the offense for which the person was actually convicted. HR 4437 seeks to eliminate these guidelines for those accused of being aggravated felons in immigration proceedings. This means that immigrants could be deported for a conviction of an offense that is not actually an aggravated felony, simply because the offense is listed in the same state criminal statute that also includes an aggravated felony. Eliminating the categorical analysis is a radical violation of basic fairness that seeks to overturn years of established judicial precedent.


* HR 4437 reverses the burden of proof


Historically, the burden has been on the government to prove deportation, because the hardship of deportation is so great. Analogous to the criminal “innocent until proven guilty” standard, the longstanding rule has provided that the government may not simply arrest a long-time permanent resident, allege that she is deportable, and force her to prove that she is not. HR 4437 reverses this burden of proof for those charged with aggravated felonies. This would be an extreme blow to deeply-rooted and longstanding notions of fairness. The result in practice is that once the government decides to charge the person, the low-income, unrepresented, detained immigrant will be required to obtain the public records and to produce the extremely complex legal arguments required to disprove the government’s assertion. If the person cannot meet this nearly impossible burden, he or she will face mandatory detention, deportation, and permanent exclusion and separation from family and friends in the United States.


* HR 4437 makes an immigrant associated with any street gang deportable and ineligible for any immigration benefits


Under HR 4437, immigrants who have never committed any crimes whatsoever and who have obeyed all of our laws can be deported, denied admission and the ability to obtain lawful status, subjected to mandatory detention, and denied all forms of protection such as asylum and temporary protected status, simply because the Attorney General has determined that they are associated with a designated street gang. The Attorney General, through a secret process that provides no notice or opportunity to be heard to the immigrant, can designate any formal or informal group of three or more persons who have committed two or more enumerated gang crimes a “criminal street gang.” As a result of this designation, many immigrants who never committed or supported a single criminal act may be punished severely for exercising their right to association – they may be deported to a country where they face interrogation, torture, detention and even death.


* HR 4437 undermines state court decisions regarding the reversal or vacation of convictions in immigration proceedings


HR 4437 would allow immigration authorities to ignore certain reversals and vacations of criminal convictions by state courts, such as the failure to advise the immigrant of the immigration consequences of the guilty plea. This provision will seriously undermine the concept of “full faith and credit” due to state courts. This is particularly so, in states like California, where the state Supreme Court and other lowers courts have ruled that the failure to advise and defend of the immigration consequences and giving affirmative misadvice as to the immigration consequences constitute ineffective assistance of counsel, meriting vacation of the conviction.


* HR 4437 imposes mandatory minimum sentences for many offenses


HR 4437 adds dozens of new mandatory minimum penalties to current law. It imposes the same sentences upon persons who aid or assist certain immigrants to enter the United States as the immigrants themselves would receive. The bill would also impose one to 10 year mandatory minimum penalties for those who reenter the United States after deportation. These mandatory minimum sentences punish arbitrarily and strip judges from the discretion to make the punishment fit the crime, while also increasing the cost of incarceration to American taxpayers.


Act Now to STOP HR 4437:

Contact Information for CA's Senators:

Dianne Feinstein:

address:

SAN FRANCISCO

Jim Molinari, State Director

One Post Street, Suite 2450

San Francisco, CA 94104

phone: 415/393-0707

email: http://feinstein.senate.gov/email.html

Barbara Boxer:

address:

San Francisco

1700 Montgomery Street,

Suite 240

San Francisco, CA 94111

(415) 403-0100

(415) 956-6701 fax


phone: 202-224-4264

email: http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm


Tell your friends this bill cannot pass because we have preserve human and civil rights!!!!