Call Your Representative: Immigration Reform Now!

Rev. Dean Reed of Dallas, Tex., challenges the crowd to take action at an interfaith prayer service during the summer. Photo: ©2013 James Coates

Call Congress and support comprehensive immigration reform!
And don't just call - drop in and visit your Representative's local office!

The Senate recently passed immigration reform with a robustly bipartisan 68-32 vote, and now the big question is what the House will do. So far, House Committees have approved five bills, none of which create a path to citizenship, and all of which contain provisions that would negatively impact our community members.

All Representatives need to hear from people of faith. Raise your voices and tell your Representative to focus on legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship and reunites families. Make your call, and ask your friends, neighbors, congregation members, etc. to join you in calling and visiting your Representative’s local office, which should be close to where you live. Find your Representative's local office at www.house.gov.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected with a key Representative near you.

You can also find your Representative’s direct line at www.house.gov. Feel free to use this sample script:

“I am from [City, State, Congregation], and I urge the Representative to support immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship and reunites families.

As a person of faith, I urge the Representative to OPPOSE bills like the SAFE Act and the Agricultural Guestworker Act. These are not real reforms to our immigration system. We need immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship and reunites separated families.”

Keep up the pressure on social media!

Find Your Representative’s Twitter names on their websites (www.house.gov) and urge them to support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE and AG Acts by tweeting @[their twitter name]. Ex: “@Raul_Labrador As a person of faith from Idaho I support #pathtocitizenship & #familyunity. Please support #immigrationreform!” Follow @CWS_IRP on Twitter and “like” the CWS Immigrants & Refugees on Facebook to receive up-to-date alerts.


WHAT IS THE SAFE ACT?
The Strengthen And Fortify Enforcement Act, H.R. 2278 would encourage racial profiling, eliminate the Administrations' protection of DREAMers, expand immigration detention, criminalize overstaying a visa, and harm both community safety and vulnerable populations. Modeled after Arizona's SB1070, this bill would encourage racial profiling, mandating that local law enforcement investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest and detain everyone who they suspect to be undocumented or deportable. The bill would increase and mandate programs that force local police to serve as immigration officials, and would deny states and localities the ability to adjust the implementation of these programs. Many law enforcement officials, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association oppose these mandates. When police are seen as immigration enforcement agents, communities are less safe because many community members stop reporting crime out of fear that they , their family members or neighbors might be arrested and deported due to their immigration status. The "SAFE" Act would negatively impact refugees, asylum seekers and others fleeing persecution. It would worsen expansive laws that have falsely labeled pro-democracy freedom fighters and victims of kidnapping, extortion, and rape as "terrorists" if they were coerced to provide goods or services to a terrorist group. The bill would create new grounds of inadmissibility and deportability for persons whom DHS “has reason to believe” have been members of a gang, even if they were not actually gang members. It would expand the immigration detention system that holds many torture survivors and asylum seekers by mandating detention even when unnecessary and authorizing indefinite detention for persons who have been ordered removed.  This bill would make it a crime to overstay a visa by even a single day and would subject anyone who transports or “harbors” an undocumented person subject to criminal penalties.  This would make the act of driving or housing an undocumented family member, neighbor, friend or congregation member a crime.

WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL GUESTWORKER ACT?
The "AG" Act, H.R. 1773, would replace the current H-2A agricultural guestworker program with a new H-2C program. It fails to provide any opportunity for farmworkers to pursue a roadmap to citizenship. Instead, they would be required to return to their home country and could only come back to the U.S. as guestworkers, another second-class status. Families would be separated as spouses and children are provided no status. H.R. 1773 would eliminate nearly all protections currently in the H-2A program, allowing for mass exploitation, wage cuts and unsafe working conditions. The bill would reduce wages and withhold 10% of guestworkers' meager wages from their paychecks. To apply for a return of their earnings, H-2C workers would have to travel to a U.S. consulate in their country of origin within 30 days of the expiration of their visa and demonstrate compliance with the terms of the H-2C program. The "AG" Act would also bar federal legal aid programs from representing H-2C guestworkers and discourage workers from filing grievances by mandating they take expensive actions prior to filing a lawsuit.