The struggle for immigration reform took a wrong turn this week when the House Judiciary Committee passed its first immigration measurethe SAFE Act, sponsored by Rep. Trey Gowdy.
The bill would allow state and local governments to enforce federal immigration laws, and provide funding for them to do so.
This measure would not only criminalize immigrants, but also turn back the clock on efforts to fight similar state laws, such as Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56.
Because the Safe ACT converts illegal entry — which is currently a misdemeanor — into a federal crime, millions of undocumented immigrants, entire communities would be at risk of being treated as harden criminals, not as violators of civil law.
Under this proposal, undocumented immigrants are not the only targets. The Safe Act threatens to open the door to racial profiling and discrimination against Latinos and others, as states such as Arizona have already demonstrated.
Calling this bill a “reform” is denying reality. The GOP has disregarded all the facts, statistics and history of these types of measures. The most recent case is the Supreme Court’s decision this week against the state of Arizona, in which the court ruled that states can’t add their own requirements to federal laws.
What message are Gowdy and his colleagues sending? That their party wants to attract Hispanics, while, at the same time, it legalizes discrimination, racism and persecution against Latinos?
The Republican Party can’t allow representatives like Gowdy to take over immigration reform. These lawmakers are acting irresponsibly and jeopardizing civil rights, a cornerstone of our Constitution
Republicans must decide: Will they become more open to a fair, humane, comprehensive immigration reform? Or will they obey the right-wing fringe? The latter guarantees the same political backlash that cost them votes, and ultimately the White House.