The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 has been compounded by new measures that heightened the assault on immigrants’ fundamental Constitutional rights and liberties in the name of national security. Moreover, these initiatives fueled the growing public misperception of immigrants as law-breakers and/or terrorists and led to heightened insecurity and suspicions within communities.
Currently, NAKASEC’s priorities are the following
• The Criminalization of Immigrants – The authorization of local and state police to enforce federal civil immigration laws.
In the past few years, there have been efforts to deputize local and state police officers to serve as de facto immigration agents. Opposition to such proposals has been broad and diverse. There are concerns that racial profiling by police officers would be widespread and that immigrant victims of or witnesses to crimes would avoid cooperation with the police for fear of deportation. More fundamentally, the bill reflected a dangerous trend to criminalize immigrants by increasing police authority over federal civil immigration law enforcement.
• Creating an Underclass of Immigrants – Denying Immigrants Access to Drivers’ Licenses.
While immigrant access to drivers’ licenses has been an issue driving many local and state immigrant rights organizations, it emerged as a national priority for all immigrant rights organizations with the passage of REAL ID Act. The REAL ID Act reflects the insidious notion that undocumented immigrants should be an unprotected class with little or no rights, including the basic right to seek judicial review and drive to school or work. The clear moral contradiction is that these efforts to chip away at the limited rights of undocumented immigrants is carried out in full knowledge that they are long term residents who are part of and contribute to American society.
• SSA No-Match – Aggressive immigration enforcement has also created various employer sanction laws that impose unreasonable burdens on U.S. employers. Unlike its original purposes, SSA no-match letter might also be used as an immigration enforcement tool by allowing the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to use receipt of a no-match letter as constructive evidence that employer “knowingly” hired unauthorized workers. If it becomes law, in order to avoid criminal and civil charge, employers need to verify data subject to no-match by using the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS). It is a well known fact that the SSA database was not created for the purpose of immigration enforcement and has a 10% error rate, inevitably leading to mass confusion on part of the employers and increase vulnerability of racial profiling, discrimination and unjust termination on the part of workers.
• Raids/Deportations – Immigrant communities are fearful that they will increasingly become the targets of harsh and punitive anti-immigrant actions at the federal, state, and local levels. Already a number of cities, counties, and states across the country are taking matters into their own hands and enacting anti-immigrant policies that criminalize, discriminate, and/or plainly deny basic rights to non-citizens. Aggravating the current political climate is the ramping up of “interior enforcement strategies” by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE raids at worksites, homes (in the case of a Vietnamese American family in Southern California), and even on college campuses (which has been reported in the Korean American community) separate families and drive immigrants further into the shadows. These raids raise serious civil rights concerns all over the country due to the use of harassment and unjustifiable force by ICE. The passage of anti-immigrant ordinances with stepped-up enforcement activities that deny basic rights and discriminate contribute to a climate that legitimizes anti-immigrant sentiments and hate.