Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tell Senator Schumer that Border Walls are NOT Immigration Reform!

Senator Charles Schumer will be crafting Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation over the August recess, and has announced that he will introduce it around Labor Day. While it should be good news that immigration reform may finally be addressed, it looks like Schumer plans to include more border walls in the bill. If walls are part of the bill that he introduces it will be extremely difficult to strip them out. We may even see a repeat of 2006, in which border walls were part of competing immigration reform bills in the House and Senate. Those reform efforts died, and their border wall provisions were turned into the Secure Fence Act.

In a June press release, Schumer listed 7 principles that will form the basis of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Principles 1 & 2 are:

1. Illegal immigration is wrong, and a primary goal of comprehensive immigration reform must be to dramatically curtail future illegal immigration.

2. Operational control of our borders--through significant additional increases in infrastructure, technology, and border personnel--must be achieved within a year of enactment of legislation.

http://schumer.senate.gov/new_website/record.cfm?id=314990

Senator Schumer recently voted for Senator DeMint's amendment, which calls for hundreds of miles of border wall.

It is critical that we pressure Senator Schumer to keep border walls out of his immigration reform bill. A good start would be to flood his office with phone calls, faxes, and emails. Below is a sample letter that anyone can copy and send along, but it is important to remember that phone calls and personal letters will have more impact. The important thing is to stress that border walls must NOT be part of immigration reform.

There is a form on Schumer's website that you can use to write to him here:
http://schumer.senate.gov/new_website/contact.cfm
But again, phone calls and personalized letters will be the most effective.

Senator Charles Schumer

313 Hart Senate Building

Washington , DC 20510

202-224-6542

Dear Senator Schumer,

I was extremely disappointed by your vote for Senator DeMint’s amendment calling for more border walls, and I am worried that you plan to include border walls in Comprehensive Immigration Reform. While immigration reform is needed, border walls should not be part of it.

The walls that already scar the borderlands have not stopped desperate immigrants from entering the United States . Border Patrol spokespersons refer to them as “speed bumps,” and say that they only slow crossers by 5 minutes. The Congressional Research Service determined that border walls have “no discernible impact” on the number of undocumented immigrants who successfully cross our borders.

While they fail at their intended purpose, border walls have serious negative impacts, including:

· Pushing thousands of border crossers into the desert, where hundreds die each year. The GAO found that after walls were built near San Diego the number of annual deaths in the desert doubled, and in the past decade over 5,000 bodies have been recovered.

· Inflicting tremendous environmental damage, including the severing of wildlife migration corridors, the destruction of endangered species habitat, the sedimentation of rivers, and unprecedented harm to designated Wilderness Areas, National Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, and preserves owned by Audubon and the Nature Conservancy.

· Condemning the property of hundreds of landowners who live along the border. Farmers, ranchers, and homeowners, some of whose property has been passed down for generations, have been hauled into court and had their lands taken to make way for border walls.

· $3.1 billion has already been spent on border walls, and the DeMint amendment will cost another $2.7 billion. Our nation cannot afford to waste billions more on “speed bumps.”

Including more border walls in Comprehensive Immigration Reform would sacrifice more landowners, ecosystems, and the lives of hundreds of immigrants just to attract a few votes.

As Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said this past February, “you cannot build a fence from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, and call that an immigration policy.”

Border walls have no place in immigration reform. Don’t sacrifice the border to pass the bill.