MEDIA RELEASE: Growing Opposition Emerges to Extremist Immigration Bill that Would Marginalize and Criminalize Immigrants

Diverse groups release letter opposing misnamed “SAFE Act” as part of immigration reform

WASHINGTON (October 10, 2013) -– The North Carolina Justice Center joined with national immigration network CAMBIO to send a letter this week to US House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signed by 104 diverse groups working to promote immigration reform in Congress, stating unequivocally that they do not support the inclusion of the so-called SAFE Act in any proposal for immigration reform.
 
Coming off the heels of more than 150 rallies around the country to pressure Congress to take action on immigration reform with a path to citizenship and tens of thousands marching in Washington this week, a broad coalition of immigrants, Latino, Asian and civil rights groups, faith communities, and labor are stating their opposition to the SAFE Act being part of the immigration reform debate.

For those in North Carolina, the SAFE Act would be a dangerous expansion of local failed programs, such as the troubled 287g program that turns local law enforcement officers into immigration agents. The letter highlighted deep concerns with the Republican-backed bill, from potential racial profiling of anyone who may look like an immigrant to the widespread criminalization of hard-working immigrant families.

“Like 287g and Arizona’s SB 1070 – a toxic and discriminatory racial profiling law that has been rejected across the country by citizens and law enforcement officials alike – the SAFE Act is an extreme bill that will keep tearing families apart,” said Dani Moore, director of the NC Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. “Such violations of rights and our basic values are unacceptable, not only on principle, but because they destroy the trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, and do so in a way that threatens public safety for all of us.”  
 
Signatories of the letter have made clear that the reckless immigration proposal is incompatible with the principles of immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans and instead would push immigrants further into the shadows. The so-called “SAFE Act” is a failed policy, already rejected by numerous states as well as the 2012 Supreme Court decision gutting Arizona’s law. In addition, numerous law enforcement leaders have recently signed a similar letter of opposition citing the breakdown in trust that occurs between police and immigrants, when immigrant communities fear contact with police will lead to deportation.

“The SAFE Act does nothing to create the type of working immigration system that most Americans want to see. Instead it only furthers an inefficient state-by-state piecemeal approach and opens the door to increased racial profiling,” said Dan Rearick, a staff attorney with the NC Justice Center’s IRRP project. “The House of Representatives has a great opportunity right now to create a working system, but this bill would leave us no better off and would, ironically, make our communities less safe.”
 
As the House of Representatives prepares to take up immigration reform bills this fall, opposition to the “SAFE Act” is strong and growing. The signatories of the letter urge Congress instead to get to work on legislation that would put 11 million aspiring Americans on a roadmap to citizenship in a way that is humane, fiscally responsible, and in line with American principles of due process and fairness.
 
CAMBIO is a diverse group of organizations advocating for laws and policies that create a fair system for immigrants to become citizens; bans indefinite detention; allows due process for all Americans; makes enforcement systems accountable; protects civil and human rights; encourages a better border to protect the quality of life in the borderlands, prevents the abuse of vulnerable Americans; and keeps families together For more information visit www.cambio-us.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dani Moore, dani@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2178; Crystal Plati, cplati@us-cambio.org, 202-369-5334