So why an Immigration Committee? The LWV has a long held belief that our democracy is rooted in the diversity of voices and what immigrants have brought to this country as well as the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Currently, our nation of immigrants, which embodies who we are, is being threatened on a number of fronts.
- The Travel Ban, barring travel from mostly Muslim countries. The latest Executive Order has been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii and a second in Maryland.
- Refugees, with new vetting rules to be applied to all refugees applying for admission and an annual cap of 45,000, the lowest number of refugees since 1980.
- The RAISE Act, a proposed US Senate bill that would replace the current system with a merit based system for legal immigration and that would reduce the number of legal immigration by half within a decade.
- The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), affecting 800,000 Dreamers. The Federal Administration has announced the end of this program in 6 months unless Congress passes legislation that would allow Dreamers to continue to live, study and work in this country. The Administration has also placed several conditions on the DACA legislation, such as funding a wall on our southern border, ending admittance of extended families and children fleeing violence, and more.
- The deportation of undocumented immigrants, not only of hardened criminals, but of families. In many cases these deportations separate parents from their children. Florida has the 3rd largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country. A majority of immigrants have lived here for over 10 years and make up a large part of the workforce in our key industries, i.e., tourism/hospitality, agriculture and construction.
A number of actions have been taken in 2017, such as the City of West Palm Beach passing a Welcoming Cities resolution and the PBC Board of Education passing a similar resolution. In the State Legislature, at this time there are hearings on pending bills HB9 and SB308, known as the Federal Immigration Enforcement Bill.
This bill would “circumvent the power of local governments to protect the civil rights of its residents, a clear violation of the principles of federalism. Additionally, the bill would force local governments and officials to cooperate with the federal immigration authority or possibly face suspension or removal from elected office, stripping of state grant funding to local authorities for 5 years, and penalties of up to $5,000 per day for non-compliance.”
This bill is being reviewed in just the Judicial Committee in an apparent effort to fast track it. Please contact your State Representatives today to let them know you oppose this bill and the usurping of local authority.
There is much the League can do to support its position on Immigration.
Please send an email to Barbara Eriv,firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know you are interested in joining the Immigration Committee.