On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 239-182 a far-reaching and harsh piece of legislation that will criminalize the entire undocumented population, including 1.6 million children, and punish anyone who comes into contact with them. The “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” (H.R. 4437), thwarts any serious attempt to fix our nation’s broken immigration system and, if it becomes law, will have a devastating impact on all our communities.
In a span of less than two weeks, the extremist anti-immigrant faction of the House introduced H.R. 4437 and moved swiftly to pass the bill without meaningful debate and careful consideration.In response to the introduction of this extremely punitive bill, communities and organizations around the nation mounted an unprecedented level of activity in opposition to H.R. 4437.
Prior to the bill’s passage, NAKASEC and its affiliates released coordinated press statements in all three cities to educate the community on the bill’s content and also to call them to action.During the 3 days before the House vote, more than 200 Korean American community members responded by calling their Representatives in New York, Illinois, and Southern California to urge them to vote no on H.R. 4437.NAKASEC and its affiliates also sent organizational letters in opposition to the bill to 80 Representatives in those three states.
NAKASEC and its affiliates also participated in local protests and actions:
On December 13, NAKASEC and the Korean Resource Center held a joint press conference with other concerned community leaders and advocates to denounce the worst bill in a century and call on community members to weigh in with their members of Congress.On December 22, NAKASEC and KRC, in coalition with several other labor, faith-based, and immigrant rights organizations, organized a rally in front of Representative Gary Miller’s (R-CA) district office, a co-author and sponsor of the bill.Over 200 individuals participated in the rally to express outrage and disappointment over Rep. Miller’s leadership in passing H.R. 4437. A delegation of his constituents and community leaders also presented a “Grinch of the Year” Award to the District Director for the Congressman’s role in threatening to separate millions of families this holiday season. The event was widely covered by almost 30 ethnic and mainstream media outlets.
On December 21, YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community, along with the New York Immigration Coalition, labor unions, religious organizations and other immigrant rights and human rights organizations, gathered in front of the federal USCIS building to denounce the passage of the bill.Despite the MTA strike that shut down transportation throughout the city, over 100 people gathered in lower Manhattan to voice their anger.
As the Senate considers immigration reform proposals in February and March, NAKASEC and its affiliates will continue to monitor legislation, meet with legislators, and mobilize our communities to pass comprehensive and workable reform.