WHEREAS, today, as in the past, Philadelphia is home to many immigrants who contribute culturally, economically and socially to the fabric of the City. In addition, Philadelphia has many fine charities and public interest legal service organizations that assist immigrants regardless of their immigration status;
WHEREAS, on December 16, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act, HR 4437, and the bill is expected to be debated in the Senate in the coming month;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 would criminalize as alien smuggler any person who assists or provides services to undocumented immigrants, including employers, churches, charities and legal services providers;
WHEREAS, there are from 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 undocumented immigrants, including 1.6 million children, many of whom have family members or employers who can sponsor them, but because of legal barriers and processing backlogs remain without status;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 would turn undocumented immigration status into a federal crime and subject undocumented immigrants to federal criminal penalties; those who were determined to have entered illegally would be charged with aggravated felonies. Under immigration law, a finding of aggravated felony means disqualification from most immigration benefits, and permanent banishment from the U.S. without any hope of return, and will cause family dissolution and separation for millions of immigrants;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 strips federal courts from reviewing applications for naturalization denied because of discretionary determinations based on secret evidence and limits federal court review of naturalization applications that are not adjudicated because of administrative delay;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 would require the Department of Homeland Security to detain all noncitizens apprehended at the border, including those who could otherwise be placed with their own families while their case is being considered, until they are removed from the United States, and funds expanded detention of immigrants, diverting resources from other essential services;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 grants state and local law enforcement agencies inherent authority to enforce immigration laws undermining the safety of our communities because immigrant crime victims will fear contacting the police, and is contrary to a previous Philadelphia Bar Association resolution opposing the local enforcement of immigration laws;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 erodes our asylum system in several respects:
The bill makes possession of fraudulent documents an aggravated felony preventing those who were granted asylum from ever obtaining permanent residency. Many asylum seekers fleeing repressive or worn-torn regimes are unable to get passports from these regimes;
The bill expands expedited removal which subjects individuals, including asylum seekers, to immediate removal to countries without administrative or court review;
WHEREAS, HR 4437 restricts access to appellate review by proposing an unprecedented, single-judge certification process for judicial review of orders of removal, so that circuit court review is no longer available unless a single judge determines that the petitioner has made a substantial showing the petition for review is likely to be granted;
WHEREAS, many local governments, including our Philadelphia City Council , along with religious, business and labor organizations, have voiced opposition to HR 4437.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes HR 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor or his designee to communicate the content of this resolution to the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, other bar associations, and the public at large and to take such other action as may be appropriate.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MARCH 30, 2006