Immigration Bill will hurt Caribbean Illegals in US
A new bill recently passed by the Republican-dominated US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the American bicameral legislature, will crack down on illegal immigrants. If it becomes law, it will have a significant effect on Caribbean illegals in the US leading to their rounding up, deportation, and near impossibility to return to the US. Those who run afoul of the law will face deportation if they are illegal. Even minor offences like driving under the influence of alcohol, using small amounts of drugs, or evading transportation fare on buses or trains could lead to arrest, a record and deportation. There are tens of thousands of illegal Trinis, Guyanese, and other Caribbean nationals in the US. Some Caribbean people were arrested and deported for minor offenses.
In order for the bill to become law, the Senate must pass the exact bill and it must be signed by President Trump. The U.S. President, Donald Trump, supported the proposed new measure passed last month.
Democrats are against the bill. The Democrats voted against the bill criticizing it for targeting immigrants who are not a threat to society and who may have legitimate reasons to live illegally in the US -- like escaping terror or ethnic or religious persecution in their home country or a natural disaster.
"Although people who illegally re-enter the country do so to reunite with their families, or to flee violence or persecution, this bill considers them all dangerous criminals who deserve lengthy prison sentences," said New York Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler in comments carried in the media. Immigration activists said the bill is a threat to civil liberties because it profiles people on account of ethnicity.
The House voted 228-195, largely along party lines, to pass the "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act" that would withhold some federal grants to what are known as "sanctuary city" jurisdictions that do not comply with certain federal immigration laws. These sanctuary cities help to protect illegals from federal agents by not turning them over to the Feds for imprisonment and deportation. Some mandirs have agreed to provide sanctuary for illegals.
The "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act" prohibits sanctuary cities from adopting policies that restrict police officers from asking individuals about their immigration status or the immigration status of others.
Media reports note that by a vote of 257-167, the House also passed "Kate's law" to increase penalties for illegal immigrants who return to the United States. It is named after Kate Steinle, who was shot dead in San Francisco in 2015 by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times.
In praising the bills, Trump tweeted, "These were bills I campaigned on and that are vital to our public safety and national security."
Under the laws, illegal immigrants would face mandatory detention for past convictions of an expanded number of offenses, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Before becoming law, both identical bills will need approval from the Senate and signed by the President. The Republicans have a two seat majority in the Senate. But several Republican Senators are opposed to some aspects of both bills. So passage in the Senate is not guaranteed. Caribbean Americans are urged to lobby their Members of Congress to vote against the bill when it comes up for debate in the Senate.