Sunday, May 25, 2008 8:01 AM
CALL LOUISIANA SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRS AND MEMBERS!
Four anti-immigrant bills have passed the House and been assigned to Judiciary Committees in the Senate. They are: HB 25, HB 887, HB 1357 and HB 1358. Hearings have not yet been scheduled, but could occur at any time. Call the committee chairs and members and urge them to kill the bills in committee.
HB 25 (Verification of Immigration Status on Arrest), HB 1357 and 1358 (criminal liability for "harboring, "sheltering," "transporting" undocumented Immigrants) ? Senate Judiciary B ? Chair Daniel Martiny ?[masked], [address removed]
HB 887 (Limitation of Medical Malpractice Claims for Immigrants) ? Senate Judiciary A ? Chair Judy Quinn,[masked], [address removed]
Basic message: Please stop these bills in Committee.
These bills divide our community and turn immigrants into outcasts. Rather than recognizing the huge contributions made by immigrants to the rebuilding of our state, these bills turn many immigrants, including some who are in the U.S. legally, into outcasts.
These bills would put good Samaritans in jail. They make criminals out of law-abiding businesses, service providers and even spiritual leaders. Under the bills, driving an undocumented individual to church or home from church (or to school or to medical appointments) would be a criminal offense. The bills would send good neighbors, good businesses, and health care professional to jail, with a huge impact on our state's economy and sense of community.
At a time when Louisiana is facing a budget crisis, buying these bills doesn't make economic sense. States that have bought punishment bills have found that the costs are crippling. Louisiana would spend millions on laws that are unconstitutional and immoral.
These bills will make conscientious citizens into immigration attorneys, at the risk of prosecution. Businesses and service providers will need to become experts in the complexities of immigration law, interpreting the some 60 ever-changing categories of immigrant visas, as well as an alphabet soup of special immigration statuses ? TPS, VAWA, LPRs and others.
One bill treats immigrants' lives as valueless. If it becomes law, a doctor can commit malpractice and avoid paying damages for having injured, or even killed, the immigrant.
Punishment bills like those in these bills do nothing to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, but instead force them further underground, prey to unscrupulous employers, landlords and others.
Dear Chair and Members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee:
As you know, three bills purporting to address immigration have passed the House and been assigned to Judiciary B Committee in the Senate. They are: HB 25, HB 1357, and HB 1358. Four other bills, HB1082, 1097, 1103 and 1365 are still pending in the House.
We are writing to express our grave concerns with these bills. They are costly wastes of energy and taxpayer money that have serious impacts on our state's economy, sense of community and human rights values. Rather than recognizing the huge contributions made by immigrants, both before and after Hurricane Katrina, to the building and rebuilding of our state, these bills turn many immigrants, including some who are in the U.S. legally, into outcasts. They turn banks, ESL teachers, service providers, businesses and even doctors into outlaws. Please stop these bills in your Committee.
A bad use of scarce state resources: States that have passed such measures have faced several costs. First, states and localities have faced huge implementation costs. For example, Colorado spent some $2 million to implement a law that ultimately did not identify a single undocumented immigrant. Second, states have faced enormous litigation costs, given that many of the provisions are pre-empted by federal law. The attorney fees tab for the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania in its losing battle to defend its ordinance, stands at some $2.4 million - and that is just the bill for the plaintiffs' lawyers. The City still must pay its own lawyers. Finally, state economies have suffered. A study in Arizona puts the loss to the state's economy because of their anti-immigrant laws at $29 billion a year, if all undocumented immigrants are removed from the economy.
Turning ordinary citizens into criminals. Two proposals, HB 1357 and 1358, outlaw "harboring" "sheltering" or "transporting" undocumented immigrants. They leave many law-abiding businesses and service providers, as well as ordinary citizens, subject to criminal violations and jail time for helping their neighbors. For example, under the bills, driving an undocumented individual to church or home from church (or to school or to medical appointments) could be a criminal offense.
Forcing everyone to be an immigration expert. Under the bills, conscientious citizens and county sheriffs (in the case of HB 25) will have to become experts in the complexities of immigration law, interpreting the some 60 ever-changing categories of visas, as well as the alphabet soup of special immigration statuses. While some argue that the bills are directed against those who take advantage of vulnerable immigrant workers, Louisiana already has an explicit anti-trafficking bill that is aimed at protecting victims. RS 14:46.
Legitimating discrimination. In order to avoid liability, good neighbors will be forced to determine their friend's immigration status. They will do so based on skin color, surnames, or accents, and our communities will become more divided. Jeopardizing the lives and health of immigrants. These bills will have grave human costs for immigrants themselves. After similar bills were passed in Oklahoma, a U.S.-born child died from a ruptured intestine when his parents were afraid to take him to the hospital.
Punishment-only bills like these eight do nothing to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and recognize their contributions to our economy. Instead, they force them further underground, prey to unscrupulous employers, landlords and others.
We urge you to stop these bills in your committee.