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Oppose Anti-immigrant Legislation with a New Year’s Resolution

January 4, 2011

By Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team

It won’t be such a happy new year for immigrants in the United States, if some lawmakers in several states have their way. Proposals include denying the constitutional right to citizenship for children born in the U.S. of undocumented immigrants.

The Sisters of Mercy have joined the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and many other faith-based groups in working for comprehensive federal immigration reform, which would include reuniting families and a way for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status. Expectations are low, however, that such legislation will be passed in a Congress that now has immigration restrictionists in key leadership positions.

Chances are that advocacy will turn instead to trying to hold off proposals that would create even more hardships for families that often are a blend of citizens, legal residents and undocumented immigrants. For instance, state legislators have announced measures to limit access to public colleges and other benefits for illegal immigrants and to punish employers who hire them.

More sweeping proposals are similar to the one passed in Arizona last year, which authorized state and local police to ask about the immigration status of anyone they detained for other reasons, if they had a “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an illegal immigrant. Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are among those states expected to introduce such bills.

The newest initiative is a joint effort among lawmakers from states including Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and Pennsylvania to pass laws based on a single model that would deny American citizenship to children born in those states to illegal immigrants. The legislators are expected to announce the campaign in Washington tomorrow.

New York Times article details these initiatives in more detail.

The Sisters of Mercy, in an effort to keep comprehensive immigration reform alive and to hold off restrictionist measures, have launched a New Year’s Resolution campaign for immigration reform. Please make a pledge to “do one thing” for immigration reform in 2011. Possibilities include contacting state legislators to express dismay with proposed immigration restrictionist policies or writing a letter to the editor against such proposals.

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