Monday, October 2, 2006
The views of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund on the Secure Fence Act -- A "Brazen Attempt to Secure Re-election ":
This weekend, the U.S. Congress went home to campaign for re-election having failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform but congratulating itself on authorizing 700 miles of walls and fences along the U.S./Mexico border. Far from ensuring the nation's security, the so-called "Secure Fence Act" was a brazen attempt to secure votes for re-election. This year, MALDEF worked hard in Washington, D.C. and across the country educating and advocating on the importance of comprehensive immigration reform for the nation's economic growth and security. With many others, including the millions who marched this spring, we were able to hold back the most egregious provisions of the Sensenbrenner bill that passed the House in December, 2005 but was rejected by the Senate. Unfortunately, the House leadership chose to conduct field hearings this summer instead of do the hard work of reaching agreement with the Senate and Bush Administration. Left undone were important bipartisan legal changes such as AgJobs, supported by industry and unions alike that would have provided visas for farmworkers; and the DREAM Act, that would have permitted students attending two- or four-year colleges or entering military service to adjust their immigration status. Faced with House leadership intransigience, on Friday night the U.S. Senate passed legislation by a vote of 80-19 that authorizes 700 miles of fencing along the nearly 2,000 mile long border between the United States and Mexico. While the worst features of the Sensenbrenner bill were not enacted, the Secure Fence Act authorizes, but does not pay for, walls and fences that will keep unauthorized immigrant families inside the U.S., make illegal crossings more deadly and dangerous, and increase the profits of smugglers who prey upon the hopes of immigrants. And it provides not one new visa for American companies who need workers or American families who want to be reunited with loved ones.