Calendar Item 477

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The petitiion is amended as follows: Beginning at paragraph one, through paragraph four, the following changes are recommended:
As followers of Christ we are called to love the stranger in our midst because we were once strangers in a foreign land.  We are all descendants of immigrants to this country.  The stranger in the midst at one time or another has been your own family member.
  
In 1996 the Illegal Immigration Reform And Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) went into effect.  This immigration law severely restricted the opportunities of immigrants in this country the United States   to reunite with their families,  and to obtain permission to work legally, and to avoid being exploited by unscrupulous employers and employment practices.  It restricted the opportunities for the elderly to obtain needed social services and for children to obtain an education at a reasonable cost.  The IIRAIRA also strengthened border security with the idea of reducing the numbers of people who enter this country every year without permission in search of opportunities to earn wages with which they can support their families back home.  The law has not worked.  The current immigration system is broken.

Approximately 850,000 immigrants enter the United States without permission every year.  America benefits and prospers as a result of their labor; yet denies many of them basic rights like fair wages, health benefits, the opportunity to be with their families, and social services.
  
We are living in a time of persecution and oppression due to ignorance and fear.  We hear reports of counties like Loudoun County and Prince William County in Virginia and cities like Hazelton, Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas, pass resolutions and ordinances codifying the discrimination, persecution, and oppression of undocumented immigrants.  There are new chapters of groups like the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps springing up all over the country.  There is frustration on all sides about the state of our immigration laws.  We must work to channel that frustration into advocacy for the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The committee recommends to adopt the above.