Tuesday, March 25, 2008

SAVE: A War of Attrition Against the Immigrant Community and its Advocates

Republican Nativists have come up with a new way to harass immigrants and their advocates and families without addressing the root causes of immigration or the larger issues relating to immigration. Thelma Drake (R-Va), the SAVE Act sponsor, (Secure America with Verification Enforcement; H.R. 4088) on March 11, 2008, filed this reprehensible piece of legislation. The goal of the Republicans is to force this malicious legislation to the floor where the Republicans will uniformly back it and beat their chests about how “tough” they are on immigration. Needless to say, a number of Blue Dog Democrats* will be cowed into signing on to this bill, lest they be labeled as soft on immigration.

The Act is the product of the same Nativist mindset which gave us the 2005 Real ID Act. From almost every perspective, the 2005 Real ID Act is tremendous breach on what we have come to call civil liberties. As recently articulated by Smitheus on DailyKos:

The Real ID Act is reprehensible. Its most obnoxious component creates in effect a national ID card by imposing draconian restrictions upon how states may issue drivers licenses. It requires the states to conduct expensive (and essentially impossible) background checks, and create and share databases with extensive personal information for all drivers. It also requires that airline passengers and anyone seeking to enter a federal building in the future must present a Real ID, or face extensive screening and delays. There's every reason to believe that in the not too distant future, the uses of this nascent national ID card would be extended both in public and private spheres until it became nearly impossible to do without one. Furthermore, the state databases would almost certainly be fed into federal systems, including data-mining programs like Total Information Awareness (or whatever the government is calling its Orwellian program now). It's hard to believe as well that these vast state databases could be kept secure from snoopers and identity-thieves, when so many "low-level" employees will have direct, daily access to them. Real ID is a nightmarishly bad idea.

(http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/3/23/14321/1510) The Save Act goes farther in encroaching on civil liberties and ratcheting up the war on the immigrant community and its advocates.

The SAVE ACT (H.R. 4088) would:

  • Broaden the definition of "alien smuggler" to include anyone who provides assistance to an undocumented immigrant. This would impact churches, humanitarian groups, bus drivers, and others who are in no way "smugglers" but simply do not examine immigration status prior to helping people in need.
  • Force employers to rely on an inaccurate verification system for all employees, without any safeguards against racial profiling, misuse, privacy, or error.
  • Increase imprisonment of asylum seekers and other immigrants, including children, while ignoring the lack of humanitarian standards in detention centers.
  • Divert local police resources from community safety and force them to act as immigration officers, which will result in racial profiling and unreported crime.

The Act insidiously steps up criminal actions against immigration advocates, familial members and others who are associated with undocumented workers. As well, the Act would increase the type of incarceration currently being visited on asylum seekers at the infamous Hutto prison in Texas. (see: So Much for Family Values: Cheney Crony CCA Gets Contract to Mistreat Asylum Seekers).

The radical Nativists are delighted at what they have rightly referred to as "Attrition Through Enforcement." As the radical Nativist website, NumbersUSA, glibly asserts: “The principle behind Attrition Through Enforcement is that living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time … The goal is to make it extremely difficult for unauthorized persons to live and work in the United States.” (emphasis added - http://www.numbersusa.com/interests/attrition.html#s2). In other words, Nativists can now have the government institute a complete war of attrition against immigrants and their advocates and families.

The SAVE Act is a cynical and politically motivated attack on immigrant families and a foolish burden on our fragile economy.

  • It would require approximately six million employers to verify the work status of more than 130 million workers within four years. If passed, the SAVE Act would place a tremendous financial and regulatory burden on businesses and employees at a time when our economy is already fragile. This is a foolish proposal at a time when our economy is already fragile.

  • The federal database that would be used to enforce the SAVE Act is known to have an unacceptably high error rate – nearly 10 percent! An independent study of the E-Verify/Basic Pilot program found that the ½ of 1 percent of employers that use the program often misuse it, and that the data base would need to be significantly improved before it can be expanded.

  • This is a recipe for a full scale assault on worker protections and anti-discrimination laws. Nothing in this legislation addresses real world concerns that this new mandate would lead to employers firing workers involved in union organizing drives or would have the resources to ensure that they are not discriminating against Latinos or other immigrants applying for employment.

  • It will represent an unprecedented intrusion into the lives of millions of United States workers, regardless of their status. If this law were in place now, the errors in the SSA database alone could result in 2.5 million people a year being misidentified as unauthorized for employment. Workers, including U.S. citizens, will get caught in this faulty system and lose their jobs. The "SAVE Act" contains no assurances that government databases will be accurate and updated, no privacy protections for the vast amounts of personal information to be handled by employers, and no recourse for workers who are wrongfully denied employment.

  • It would make it easier for the government to put religious and humanitarian workers behind bars for so-called "alien smuggling." Humanitarian workers – like nuns, priests, volunteers – would be constantly forced to navigate this confusing legislation, or run the risk of arrest, fines and imprisonment.

  • It would waste millions of tax-payer dollars on enforcement, detention and deportation programs that have been tried for the last twenty years and failed to end undocumented immigration. Any scenario that begins with enactment of this legislation is likely to lead to haphazard and uneven implementation and widespread fear of raids and deportation in immigrant communities at a time when undocumented workers, who are contributing to this economy, have no where else to go.

  • Most Americans want sensible solutions to our broken immigration system and are fully able to recognize what amounts to real leadership on this critical issue and what is simply pandering to irrational and angry anti-immigrant activists.
Help Defeat this Legislation

MigraMatters has an excellent comprehensive view of the Act, as well as legislative updates. (http://migramatters.blogspot.com/2008/03/best-have-your-papers-in-order-new.html). It is imperative that the progressive community mobilize against this odious and underhanded breach of civil liberties. To get updates and information, check out the following websites:

· Church World Service http://www.congress.org/churchworld/issues/alert/?alertid=10899656

· The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/action.html

· National Immigrant Justice Center http://www.immigrantjustice.org/blog/uspolicyblog/save-act-update---more-calls-are-needed.html

· GENERATION 1.5 http://generationonepointfive.blogspot.com/2008/03/hr-4408-must-be-stopped-call-to-action.html

· Dream Act – Texas http://dreamacttexas.blogspot.com/2008/03/urgent-please-help-stop-hr-4088.html

· Find out if your representative has signed the Bill http://clerk.house.gov/110/lrc/pd/petitions/Dis5.htm

Here are some numbers to call and help defeat this rapacious legislation:








See if your Rep. is a Sponsor Here:


Your Representatives' phone number is online here:





Blue Dog Dems

(Ala.) - Rep. Cramer
(Ala.) - Rep. Davis
(Ark.) - Rep. Berry
(Ark.) - Rep. Ross
(Calif.) - Rep. McNerny
(Colo.) - Rep. Perlmutter
(Colo.) - Rep. Udall
(Fla.) - Rep. Boyd
(Fla.) - Rep. Klein
(Ga.) - Rep. Barrow
(Ga.) - Rep. Bishop
(Ga.) - Rep. Marshall
(Ill.) - Rep. Bean
(Ind.) - Rep. Donnelly
(Ind.) - Rep. Ellsworth
(Ind.) - Rep. Hill
(Ind.) - Rep. Visclosky
(Iowa) - Rep. Boswell
(Kan.) - Rep. Boyda
(La.) - Rep. Melancon
(Mich.) - Rep. Stupak
(Miss.) - Rep. Taylor
(N.H.) - Rep. Hodes
(N.Y.) - Rep. Arcuri
(N.Y.) - Rep. Gillibrand
(N.Y.) - Rep. Higgins
(N.C.) - Rep. McIntyre
(N.C.) - Rep. Shuler *
(Ohio) - Rep. Ryan
(Ohio) - Rep. Space
(Okla.) - Rep. Boren
(Pa.) - Rep. Altmire
(Pa.) - Rep. Carney
(Pa.) - Rep. Holden
(Pa.) - Rep. Kanjorski
(Pa.) - Rep. Murphy
(Pa.) - Rep. Murtha
(Pa.) - Rep. Sestak
(Tenn.) - Rep. Cohen
(Tenn.) - Rep. Cooper
(Tenn.) - Rep. Davis
(Tenn.) - Rep. Gordon
(Tenn.) - Rep. Tanner
(Texas) - Rep. Lampson
(Texas) - Rep. Rodriguez
(Utah) - Rep. Matheson
(Va.) - Rep. Boucher

(Wash.) - Rep. Baird
(Wis.) - Rep. Kagen

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1 comment:

proinmigrant said...

Nice job Hugo. Keep up the good work.