Oppose the anti-immigrant legislation and rhetoric

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” John F. Kennedy

Proposed legislation, like the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and Kate’s Law, will force sanctuary cities like New York City to forego sanctuary jurisdiction protections and further criminalize repeated denials of entry into the U.S., making it harder for people coming here on employment visas, for family and medical needs, or seeking asylum to be treated fairly. These laws will not make us safer, improve our broken immigration system, or improve relationships between immigrant communities and law enforcement officials. In fact, they are most un-American.

Consequently, these bills must not be allowed to pass, and we must stand against policies that unfairly demonize our immigrant communities and instead focus on continuing the American tradition of family unification, welcoming those who come to our country to improve their lives and contribute to our communities.

The No Sanctuary law, if passed, will ultimately force sanctuary jurisdictions to abide by immigration policies of the federal government in withholding federal funding and enforcing other restrictions, and was passed by the House recently. It awaits Senate approval. We must not allow this bill to pass, as it poses a threat to the whole of New York City and scares immigrant communities and prevents them from helping law enforcement do its job. Our local law enforcement must not be turned into a deportation force, for it will usher in a dangerous “police state.”

It will also create a counterproductive environment fueled by hate. People would not be sure if police officers are acting on behalf of city law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and incidents have occurred where ICE has gone after known criminals, sweeping up law abiding residents as well, wrongly putting them in deportation proceedings.

These bills devastate the necessary trust we have developed between law enforcement and the communities they serve and derive information from in order to keep the nation safe. Fighting crime consists of information gathering and we need people working in cooperation with our police department in vital partnership. If residents feel that if they cooperate and bring evidence to police, that they can be subject to deportation, then they are not going to cooperate or assist public safety.

The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act would also require compliance with all forms of immigration enforcement, restrict funding in sanctuary jurisdictions, expand ICE detainer authority, expand mandatory detention, and overrule a Ninth Circuit holding by authorizing indefinite detention of such persons while they are in removal proceedings.

The effect of these laws will be devastating and unjust. Recently, Queens’s resident Carlos Humberto Cardona faced deportation after living in the United States for approximately three decades. He was a cleanup worker at the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Such inhumane treatment turns immigration policy on its head, and results in the disgraceful reality that patriotism and sacrifices will not matter anymore.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand must take the lead on this issue, and against similar proliferating bills, which will only further codify the dangerous and hateful rhetoric we’ve seen being advanced lately in our land of the free and the home of the brave. Democracy is not a spectator sport!

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