No Soy Criminal (I am not a Criminal)

root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Anti-immigrant legislation inspired by the "Minutemen" is passed by the House of Representatives. San Francisco passes an ordinance condemning it

by Carlos X

I have been in the Estados Unidos for nine years. Everyday i wake up at 5:00 am and take two buses and a train across town to my job at a Chinese restaurant. Everyday I stand on my feet for twelve hours washing dishes for $6.00 per hour. Everyday as my hands swim through the soap and grease, my mind runs through the rios y playas I used to see in my country. Rios y playas that tourists spend thousands of dollars traveling to see.

Every night I get back on two buses and a train and return to my room. Every night I dream of going home. I am a hard worker. Sometimes I am a dreamer. I am not a criminal. No soy criminal

My POOR Magazine editor told me about a proposed law called “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” –HR 4437.

On December 16, 2005, the US House of Representatives passed HR 4437, which, among other things, proposes to turn undocumented immigrants like me who live in the US into aggravated felons. It would also criminalize US citizens and legal residents who have routine contact with undocumented immigrants, require day laborer centers and other non-profit organizations to verify workers’ immigration status, gut judicial review of immigration courts; to make detention of immigrants mandatory; and give the government unfettered discretion to designate individuals as gang members and make immigrants deportable as members of supposed gangs even if they have never violated the law.

Ever since the rise of “the minutemen” in the US there has been a nation-wide trend towards targeting Latino immigrants. Living in the Bay Area I am blessed by a conscious citizenry who is not willing to go along with this new brand of fascism. My friends living elsewhere are not so lucky. Last week a friend of mine living in Arizona ( where the “minutemen” are from) was followed down the street by two men in a truck. They called him names and threw rocks at him and told him to “go home”. The funny thing is he and parents were born in Arizona

Last week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the Minutemen vigilantes and the “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” –HR 4437—and committed to a non-compliance of its provisions.

“This Resolution should send a clear message to Washington that our day laborer center will never verify workers’ papers, and that San Francisco will never allow its Police Department to start arresting people who are suspected of being immigrants,” states Luis Herrera, of St Peter’s Housing Rights Committee a member of the immigrant rights coalition “Deporten a La Migra.”

“Immigrant communities in San Francisco are organizing to defeat this egregious proposal. We will go to jail before we turn anyone in,” states Renee Saucedo of the San Francisco Day Labor Program.

HR 4437 is expected to reach the US Senate for debate beginning in late February or early March. I hope for my sake and the safety of thousands of other hard-working migrant raza and Latino Americans that this racist bill is defeated.

Action Alert: Call-In week opposing the Sensenbrenner bill: Monday, February 6 to Friday, February 10

Fighting Conservatives’ Attempts to Criminalize People of Color: Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) recently forced a radical revision of immigration law through the House of Representatives. One of H.R. 4437’s most bizarre provisions is a definition of “alien smuggling” so broad that it would include providing humanitarian aid or legal advice to undocumented immigrants. The bill places nonprofit social services organizations, refugee agencies, churches, legal services and others in the same category as criminal smuggling syndicates and imposes harsh penalties for providing such assistance. Even family members could face federal prison time for assisting undocumented immigrants with housing, food, and other basic human necessities. The bill calls to mind the runaway slave legislation that stains our nation’s history, and reminds us of the persecution faced by the dedicated supporters of the Underground Railroad. H.R. 4437, which is scheduled to be considered by the Senate next month, would also make it a federal felony, rather than a civil immigration violation, to be present in the United States without the current authorization of the Department of Homeland Security. Rather than providing a way for U.S. citizens to help their undocumented family members request permission to stay here legally, the bill seeks to separate spouses, parents, and children through the criminal justice system. Sensenbrenner’s bill was introduced, pushed through committee, and narrowly passed by a floor vote all within two weeks in December. Meanwhile, meaningful attempts to create legislation that promotes civil rights and civil liberties, family reunification, workplace rights and legalization continue to fall by the wayside.

Please call Senator Dianne Feinstein to protest the passing of this harmful bill: Washington, D.C. office: Phone: (202) 224-3841

San Francisco, CA office: 415/393-0707

Please also leave a message for President Bush at the White House: Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Here is an example of what you could say:

Please do not pass the Sensenbrenner bill. This will not only exacerbate the US’s immigration problems, but it will create a human rights crisis on American soil.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition


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