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Pesante-USA and CDIR Welcomes New Developments in US Senate Debates on Immigrant Issues

by Vener Malabanan Friday, Mar. 31, 2006 at 1:36 AM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com (213)241-0995 1610 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Philippine Peasant Support Network and the Coalition to Defend Immigrant Rights (CDIR) heard that the call of President Bush for sobriety and civility regarding the immigration issue came in reaction to the rush of millions coming out in the streets to demand full rights for immigrants.

Pesante-USA and CDIR Welcomes New Developments in US Senate Debates on Immigrant Issues

Los Angeles, California – The Philippine Peasant Support Network and the Coalition to Defend Immigrant Rights (CDIR) heard that the call of President Bush for sobriety and civility regarding the immigration issue came in reaction to the rush of millions coming out in the streets to demand full rights for immigrants.

For us immigrant and immigrant rights advocates, we welcome the Senate Judiciary Committee move that adopted an amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., which would protect church and charitable groups, as well as individuals, from criminal prosecution for providing food, shelter, medical care and counseling to undocumented immigrants. "Charitable organizations, like individuals, should be able to provide humanitarian assistance to immigrants without fearing prosecution," Durbin said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, came up with a welcome proposal to give agricultural workers special rights to enter and leave the country. Under her proposal, they would be given a special permit called a "blue card" that would be limited to 1.5 million recipients over five years. Senator Feinstein's proposal passed by a vote of 11 to 5.

We are also in favor of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy who won approval of a plan to allow an additional 400,000 green cards for future immigrants, regardless of the industry where they find jobs. We likewise support Mr. Specter's bill, which includes a provision that would set up a six-year process for illegal aliens to win legal status after undergoing background checks. "If we do not have some realistic proposal to give them an opportunity to work lawfully and ultimately to obtain citizenship, then they're going to be fugitives," he said.

While these are welcome developments, however, we strongly protest the provisions that the Senate accepted – especially the one which would, in effect, increase the detention capacity of the Department of Homeland Security by 50 percent, or 10,000 beds by means of new construction and the use of closed military bases, and another one easing admission requirements for people fleeing persecution.

For Pesante and the CDIR, we are apprehensive that Bush and the Republicans still do not hear the voices for the millions of immigrants and their advocates. They are still hell-bent on “law enforcement and protecting the border” even as they speak about “America as a nation of immigrants and a welcoming nation.”

We salute the more than 100,000 high school students who walked out of their classes to support the struggle for immigrant rights. More than 24,000 students from Los Angeles marched out of their classes and occupied the 101 freeways for several hours.

We will expect more actions until the US Congress really work out a truly just and humane immigration reform law that will not be anti-immigrant and racist. Until, then, we will mobilize, organize and fight for our rights. ####



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