Does the SAFE Act Make Us Safe?

On June 18, 2013, the House Judiciary Committed marked up the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act” (the SAFE Act).  At Andres Mejer Law, we strongly oppose the SAFE Act.  It criminalizes undocumented immigrants, allows states and cities authority to enact their own immigration laws, inflates an already costly detention and enforcement apparatus, and perpetuates the failures of the existing system. This bill has three strikes: 1) it doesn’t meet our nation’s needs; 2) it doesn’t protect civil and human rights; and 3) it doesn’t ensure due process.The SAFE Act is an extremist bill.

  • The SAFE Act criminalizes immigrants by authorizing the prosecution and incarceration of every undocumented individual who is “unlawfully present.”  This overnight radically changes our country’s immigration policy.  Overnight 4.5 million U.S. Citizen children would have a mother or father who is now a criminal.  Families will be entirely torn apart.  In 2005 Congressman Sensenbrenner tried this approach which resulted in the largest nonviolent protests in our nation’s history
  • The SAFE Act would create chaos by allowing every state and city to create their own immigration laws and determine how those laws would be enforced.  The stupidity of such an approach is beyond comprehension.
  • The SAFE Act erodes the Constitution and fundamental American values.   It expands mandatory detention, mandatory deportation, and deportation without due process. It will cause racial profiling and discrimination.  It would push people further into the shadows, creating fear and eroding trust in those who work to keep us safe.  There is no logic to this bill.  There is no upside to our communities and country.
  • The SAFE Act is probably unconstitutional. The SAFE Act overturns more than a century of U.S. Supreme Court precedents on the Constitutional separation of state and federal authority over immigration law, including the 2012 Arizona v. U.S. decision. It permits states and localities to enact and enforce their own immigration laws and authorizes police to arrest and detain anyone based solely on suspicion of being unlawfully present in the U.S.  It is unprecedented!
  • The SAFE Act is expensive.  The SAFE Act authorizes dramatic increases in spending, much of which is not even calculated.  What will happen to our jails where communities pick up thousands of people?  What will happen to our already overburdened immigration courts when millions more people will be added to the dockets, overnight?  Where is the strategy here?

The SAFE Act offers no solutions.

  • The Safe Act is not a bipartisan effort to achieve common sense reform to bring out nation to the 21st century.  This bill has no solutions.  Our immigration system has been broken for decades.  This is just more of the same enforcement only approach that would destroy, not strengthen our country.
  • We can’t simply deport 11 million people.  It is impractical and would devastate our economy.  But the proponents of the SAFE Act continue to call for unworkable enforcement-only deportation approaches.
  • We need smart enforcement, not more enforcement. Criminalizing undocumented immigrants will not make us safer.  We need to bring the 11 million undocumented individuals out of the shadows to register and legalize on our terms, and to focus enforcement efforts on apprehending and deporting those who pose a danger to public safety or national security.  The Senate’s bipartisan measure, S. 744, takes this approach.  It establishes tough standards that will exclude those who pose a public safety risk but provides a path out of the shadows for others.
  • The SAFE Act is fundamentally inconsistent with legalization. The harsh measure will drive undocumented immigrants further into the shadows and criminalize those who pose no safety risk and whose continued participation in our communities we wish to encourage.

What do you think about this bill?  Let us know . . .

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