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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

HR 4437: King promised changes, but none made

Back in late December, in reaction to an outpouring of concern from church groups and humanitarian aid organizations, co-sponsor of HR 4437 , Rep. Peter King (NY) promised that the bill would be reworded to guarantee that aid workers would be free from prosecution.

It appears that Mr King has changed his mind.
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KING SAYS HE'LL REWORD BILL
Says he didn't mean to target humanitarian groups after outcry over measure aimed at illegal immigration

Newsday Dec 31, 2005
By Bart Jones and J Jioni Palmer
Staff writers

After an outpouring of criticism from churches and relief groups, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Friday he is willing to reword the legislation he co-sponsored that would have made it illegal to assist undocumented immigrants.

The bill calls for building a 698-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, turning undocumented immigrants into felons and permitting "deputization" of local and state police officers as immigration agents.

But it also included a provision that makes it a crime for anyone to assist undocumented immigrants to "come or remain" in the United States.

Immigrant advocates and officials from churches and relief agencies said this could lead to the imprisonment of priests, nuns, social workers, doctors and Good Samaritans who may provide these immigrants with anything from counseling to a ride to the grocery store.

King said that was never the intention of the provision, which he said targets gangs that smuggle undocumented immigrants into the country.

The measure "is not aimed at humanitarian groups at all," said King, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "If there are any specific words they want changed, I can assure you that will be done."

King said the groups were misinterpreting the bill and that "the church is developing a persecution complex here ... If an alien smuggling ring gets a guy into the country and he stops at St. Brigid's at a soup kitchen, we're not going to lock up the pastor of St. Brigid's. They're not part of the smuggling ring."


Some church workers greeted King's words with relief Friday, although they said they were still outraged by the bill in general and do not believe they were misinterpreting its broad language.

"If we can discuss it, excellent," Yanira Chacon, a church outreach worker at St. Brigid's in Westbury, said in Spanish. "The ideal for me is that this bill doesn't pass at all."

Church and immigrant groups call the bill the harshest piece of anti-immigrant legislation in 70 years. Supporters say it would help bring under control a situation of anarchy at the border that has swelled the number of undocumented immigrants in the country to 11 million, including an estimated 100,000 on Long Island.

King said the bill is unlikely to be passed in its present form by the Senate, which he expected to add provisions for a guest-worker program granting temporary visas mainly to low-skilled workers.

However, he did say "a significant portion of it has to become law otherwise no immigration reform bill will pass the House

Newsday (pay link)
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An examination of the modified bill that was presented to the Senate on January 27, 2006 reveals that no changes have yet been made, and in fact it puts many humanitarian workers in great legal jeopardy.


SEC. 202. ALIEN SMUGGLING AND RELATED OFFENSES.
(a) IN GENERAL- Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324) is amended to read as follows:

`ALIEN SMUGGLING AND RELATED OFFENSES
`SEC. 274. (a) Criminal Offenses and Penalties-

`(1) PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES- Whoever--

`(A) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States, or to attempt to come to or enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to come to or enter the United States;

`(B) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, regardless of whether such person has official permission or lawful authority to be in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien;

`(C) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States;

`(D) transports or moves a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter or be in the United States, where the transportation or movement will aid or further in any manner the person's illegal entry into or illegal presence in the United States;

`(E) harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person in the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to be in the United States;

`(F) transports, moves, harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person outside of the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien in unlawful transit from one country to another or on the high seas, under circumstances in which the person is in fact seeking to enter the United States without official permission or lawful authority; or

`(G) conspires or attempts to commit any of the preceding acts,

shall be punished as provided in paragraph (2), regardless of any official action which may later be taken with respect to such alien.

`(2) CRIMINAL PENALTIES- A person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1) shall--

`(A) except as provided in subparagraphs (D) through (H), in the case where the offense was not committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain, be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(B) except as provided in subparagraphs (C) through (H), where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain--

`(i) in the case of a first violation of this subparagraph, be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and

`(ii) for any subsequent violation, be imprisoned for not less than 3 years nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(C) in the case where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain and involved 2 or more aliens other than the offender, be imprisoned for not less than 3 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(D) in the case where the offense furthers or aids the commission of any other offense against the United States or any State, which offense is punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year, be imprisoned for not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(E) in the case where any participant in the offense created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person, including--

`(i) transporting a person in an engine compartment, storage compartment, or other confined space;

`(ii) transporting a person at an excessive speed or in excess of the rated capacity of the means of transportation; or

`(iii) transporting or harboring a person in a crowded, dangerous, or inhumane manner,

be imprisoned not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(F) in the case where the offense caused serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18, United States Code, including any conduct that would violate sections 2241 or 2242 of title 18, United States Code, if the conduct occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States) to any person, be imprisoned for not less than 7 nor more than 30 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(G) in the case where the offense involved an alien who the offender knew or had reason to believe was an alien--

`(i) engaged in terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)); or

`(ii) intending to engage in such terrorist activity,

be imprisoned for not less than 10 nor more than 30 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and

`(H) in the case where the offense caused or resulted in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for not less than 10 years, or any term of years, or for life, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both.

`(3) EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION- There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over the offenses described in this subsection.

`(b) Employment of Unauthorized Aliens-

`(1) IN GENERAL- Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens described in paragraph (2), shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

`(2) ALIEN DESCRIBED- A alien described in this paragraph is an alien who--

`(A) is an unauthorized alien (as defined in section 274A(h)(3)); and

`(B) has been brought into the United States in violation of subsection (a).

Thomas/Library of Congress

As written, the bill would make activities such as providing undocumented immigrants with food, medical care, counseling, or even transportation to a doctor or grocery store a crime punishable with up to five years imprisonment.

We obviously should not accept Mr. King at his word. Hopefully church groups and humanitarian aid services will not be lulled into a false sense of security by Mr. Kings assertions

1 comment:

janinsanfran said...

As in the Sanctuary movement of the 1980s, civil disobedience will happen. There are limits to the degree that governments can interfere with our duties to our fellow humans.

Though that is an awful prospect, better that than prolonged, meaningless negociations over scraps of protection for a favored few who can adopt the mantle of approved religion.