Senate Must Reject the Anti-Latino and Anti-Immigrant "Trump Act "
By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 10/20/2015 @ 12:45 AM
Photo credit: Derek Bridges/Flickr
By: Luis Torres, LULAC National, Director of Policy and Legislation
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to take on controversial legislation proposed by Louisiana’s U.S. Senator David Vitter. Earlier this year, Senator Vitter led a push to strip citizenship rights from U.S. born children of immigrants. He continued his attacks on the Latino community with legislation that would pit police officers against hard working immigrant communities, thus jeopardizing law enforcement’s ability to keep our communities safe.
Momentum for this legislation gained steam following Trump’s racist tirade against Latino immigrants, referring to them as drug dealers, criminals, and rapists. Aside from being inflammatory, Trump’s remarks are inconsistent with the facts. According to research from the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, there is no correlation between immigrants and violent crime.
Unfortunately, Trump’s words seem to have had an effect on the Senate. Today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling up Senator Vitter’s legislation—which will need 60 votes in order to be considered in the Senate as part of a procedural vote.
Some Senators are following Trump’s lead of characterizing the immigrant population as prone to violent crime. They are pointing to the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle, a woman who was shot by an undocumented Mexican immigrant. Steinle’s murder is now being used as an excuse to scapegoat 11 million immigrants, many of them Latino. This, despite the fact that Steinle’s family has commented on how disappointed they are with politicians like Trump are using their daughter’s death for such political purposes.
The Trump Act is the latest example of how anti-immigrant rhetoric has poisoned the work of the U.S. Senate. The policies espoused in The Trump Act, are, as the New York Times put it, a result of “a class-action slander against an immigrant population that has been scapegoated for the crimes of a few, and left stranded by the failure of legislative reform that would open a path for them to live fully within the law.”
America deserves action and not divisive rhetoric. Senators must not be permitted to scapegoat Latino immigrants for the actions of one man. Instead, the Senate must be reminded that the public knows better. That’s why 3 out of 4 Americans favor broad reforms to the immigration system, including legalization of those who are out of status. By contrast, S. 2146 only fans anti-immigrant divisions and further divides communities. A summary of the bill’s impact is listed below.
Senator Vitter’s bill will not improve public safety.
• S. 2146 bill would punish localities by withholding millions of dollars in federal grants upon which sheriffs and police chiefs rely to keep their communities safe.
• S. 2146 would undermine local policing efforts designed to foster trust between police and residents in order to root out crime.
• Law enforcement, faith, and domestic violence leaders oppose this approach.
• S. 2146 targets public housing grants that benefit rural and urban low income communities and are unrelated to crime prevention.
S. 2146 is out of touch with the vast majority of the American public.
• An October 2015 Pew Research poll shows that 74 percent of Americans favor legalization. S.2146 is out of step with our country.
• S. 2146 embodies an enforcement-only, mass deportation approach and attempts to deputize local law enforcement officials to arrest undocumented immigrants. Even worse it seeks to insulate rogue officers like Sheriff Joe Arpaio who may act in discriminatory manners.
• Senator Vitter has introduced similar versions of this proposal multiple times but has not gained broad support. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about it.
• Congress should pass comprehensive immigration reform. The American people want it, and it’s what will make our nation stronger and safer.
S. 2146 ties the hands of judges and prosecutors by creating mandatory minimum sentences that would break the bank.
• S.2146 creates mandatory minimum sentences that will remove appropriate authority from judges.
• S. 2146 will cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in federal prison costs and will lock up thousands of non-violent people.
(Source: American Immigration Lawyers Association: http://www.aila.org/advo-media/tools/talking-points/talking-points-opposing-s-2146)
Help LULAC defeat the Trump Act. Take action today and tell Congress to stop scapegoating Latino immigrants. Click here to take action today!
Luis Torres is the Director of Policy and Legislation for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Prior to LULAC, he served as Legislative Director for Congressman Silvestre Reyes, former-Chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was one of a handful of Latino Legislative Directors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, Torres also served as a high school teacher in Washington, D.C. as part of Teach for America. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology from Georgetown University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University.