The bill, they
wrote in an April 5th letter, is the “House's good-faith effort to
bring human traffickers to justice” but it “will not be the final
product on this issue.”
The letter was
sent by House Judiciary Committee chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
(R-Wis.), House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King
(R-N.Y.), and House International Relations chairman Henry Hyde
“We can assure
you, just as under current law, religious organizations would not have
to ‘card’ people at soup kitchens and homeless shelters under the House
bill's anti-smuggling provisions,” they wrote.
would no sooner prosecute good Samaritans for ‘assisting’ illegal
immigrants to remain in the U.S. under the House bill than they would
prosecute such persons for ‘encouraging’ illegal immigrants to remain
in the U.S. under current law, which has existed for nearly 20 year,”
legislators said they supported H.R. 4437 in December because it would
be a solid first step in preventing illegal immigration, helping law
enforcement agents gain control of the borders, and re- establishing
respect for immigration law.
They “wholeheartedly concur” with the bishops’ assessment that “human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery,” they wrote.
“current alien-smuggling laws are inadequate in the fight against these
sophisticated coyotes and snakeheads who rape, rob, beat, and abandon
their human ‘cargo,’ and also poison our communities through drug
trafficking,” the legislators argued.
They said border-area U.S. Attorneys have asked for the tools in H.R. 4437 to aid them in their fight against alien smuggling.
promised to keep communication open with the bishops as Congress
considers the issue. They also said they remain committed to reducing
the penalty for illegal presence in the U.S. from a felony to a
group of legislators are striving to assure the U.S. Catholic bishops
that a new and much criticized immigration reform bill “does not
criminalize humanitarian assistance efforts … nor did it intend to.”