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February 17, 2006

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18 - CAPE GAZETTE Friday, Feb. 17 - Monday, Feb. 20, 2006 Immigrants: illegal aliens or needed workforceP Delaware Latinos rally against immigration bill in Georgetown By Kevin Spence " Cape Gazette staff At noon, no one had yet gathered in a snow-covered park behind a Georgetown church. But within two hours, as many as 1,600 Latinos had assembled, by some esti- mates. Mothers with strollers navigated the slushy terrain and children tagged behind their fathers, many employees of Sussex County's chicken processing plants. They carried signs such as "We are work- ers, not terrorists" and "Queremos que respetan nuestros derechos" (We want our fights respected). Supporters hung from the trees overlook- ing a makeshift stage - a wet field - as speakers urged the crowd to oppose legisla- tion that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally. The speakers said it would turn priests, social workers and volunteers, who assist illegal immigrants, into alien smugglers and criminals. One bewildered driver passed by demon- strators and shouted, "Why don't you get signs we can read?" A lone air horn blasted to rouse attention. "We're making history today. This is an activity that will benefit all of us - not just one race or religious background," shouted Anastacio Matamoros, pastor of Georgetown's Church of God of the Prophecy. Dialects of Mexicans, Guatemalans and E1 Salvadorans were as varied as the rea- sons they attended "A Day Without Immigrants" rally Tuesday, Feb. 14, :in Georgetown. Some say families would be broken up, as deported parents would be separated from their American-born children. Others say the bill, spawned by the need for fighter border security, makes it even more difficult for immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Others insist the bill takes aim at people who came to Delaware for the American dream; a better job, perhaps, a house one day. To be sure, those assembled wanted to show that Delawareans - and perhaps more importantly, the local economy - would be far worse off without immigrant workers. Rally organizers originally planned to meet at The Circle in Georgetown and Georgetown police anticipated roughly 200 attendees. But as word spread, police said, a safety issue arose because the crowd could spill into the streets. Police say they were contacted by vari- ous agencies and school resource officers who reported school children said the event would be violent. The police recommended the park behind the Georgetown Presbyterian Church, 203 N. Bedford St., blocks away from The Circle, because it was not in the center of town or near municipal buildings. "It's a safety plan more than anything else. We have to plan for the worst," said Georgetown Police Department Capt. Ralph Holm. After the event, police estimated about 600 people attended and rally organizer Rev. Rene Wright-Peguero, urged the Kevin Spence photo Luis and Michelle Rodriguez own two stores in Georgetown, which cater to Latinos. The husband and wife team oppose H.B. 4437, a bill that would affect Delaware's illegal immi- grants. But, Miehelle said, "The main thing is to support America's work- force." crowd to be peaceful. No violence was reported. But, by 2 p.m., Latinos and their support- ers were stillsnaking their way down Bedford, Front and Edward Streets toward the parks Individual response Claudia Munoz, a Mexican-born immi- grant, who works at a Sussex County chick- en processing plant, skipped her job to go to the rally. Munoz, who opposes the bill, met others as she tried to become more informed about the controversial bill. Munoz, a Bridgeville resident, was wor- ried that her simple presence in the United States would be against the law, she said, if the bill becomes law. But Spanish-speakers were not the only ones rallying. H.R. 4437 Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, passed in the House of Representatives 239 -182. Itis now before the Senate's Judiciary Committee. The bill, as passed in the House, would require employers to check Social Security numbers against governmental agency records to filter out illegal immigrants, ensuring that employees who do work here are legal. It would also make criminals of those who employ, or provide assistance to 'immi- grants, including priests, day-care center providers and volunteers. Israel Figueroa, a Seaford minister who addressed the crowd, said the rally was not against any particular employer. "It is not against the U.S. government. This is not just for the illegal people, but for lawyers and doctors who have to speak out in the names of illegal immigrants," said Figueroa. Colombian-born Andrea Elling of Ocean View, works at Early Choices, a United Way-funded, child advocacy organization in southern Delaware. "I called my boss and asked him if I could support this group," said Elling. "If the bill passes, all the parents would be illegal. But, what about the children born here? These people came here to do no harm, they came to work hard," she said. Continued on page 20 Castle approves of controversial House bill tightening borders By Rachel Swick Cape Gazette staff Federal legislation passed by the House tightens border security, but at the same time sets harsher punishments for illegal immigrants. While many Americans favor improved border security, others worry that the legislation will unfairly punish immi- grant families and an..yone who helps or employs them, likely harming local economies. Proposed by Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the proposal develops a national border strategy, increases port-of- entry security and amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide mandatory minimum sentences for those who smuggle immigrants across borders. It would also make it a felony to be in the United States illegally. Latino workers, who now could face deportation but not criminal charges, worry about criminal prosecution for those who do not possess citizensp documents. The bill was read twice on the floor of the Senate after being passed in the House late in December. It is now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. But the Senate will most likely write its own immi- gration policy rather than voting on the House bill.. The Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 or HR 4437, would establish a border security scheme and provide stringent punishments, including a sentence of up to five years in prison, for anyone found to be harboring or helping immigrants in the United States, including employers, charity organizations and churches. Among the actions proposed to beef-up national security are: Radiation portal monitors at ports of entry to screen inbound cargo for illegal materials and power is given to the Secretary of Defense to develop a surveil- lance scheme for all U.S. borders to assess border vulnerabi!ities. Any alien, other than those from Mexico or Canada, without proper identification can be arrested if they are found within 100 miles of any border. Any alien living within the United States can be deported for a third drunk driving offense or for Social Security num- ber or identification fraud. All employers must set up an employ- ment verification system to track all previ- ously hired employees as well as new employees. Employers who do not comply face civil and criminal proceedings. Establish guidelines to report on cross- border agreements with Canada and Mexico to put up a united front along the borders. Reimburse property owners along the border for damage done to property as a result of an attempted border crossing.- Castle approves measure Delaware Rep. Mike Castle voted in favor of the bill. A former member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence for six years, Castle advocated for improved biometric tracking systems to monitor cargo moving across borders. The security meas- ures proposed in HR 4437 coincide with his Rachel Swick i hoto After meeting on the circl in Georgetown, bands of Lati nos marched to the North Bedford St feet park, waving signs and shou;ing their opposition to Hit 4437. Sev aral students stood in the park to exp tess their concerns for Latino stud, rots who could be affected by the ro- posed legislation. stance on national security. "While most of the illegal immi I ants who enter the United States do so four the purposes of finding work and making bet- ter life, there are also those looking toltake advantage of our porous borders to engage in criminal activities," said Castle. 1'The answer is to effectively blend the neei for security with the openness and freedoms that have defined our country." 1 Castle said other programs, suc[a as those proposed by Arizona Sen. ohn McCain, have sought t0establish temlcrary worker programs. He said these programs should be designed and implement! as soon as possible in addition tO HR 4437. The two policies can enforce national ecu- rity by keeping terrorists and criminalsl out, while protecting others' rights to ente U.S. to obtain employment., "In addition to securing our borders also essential that we develop area strategy for managing the large numb illegal immigrants who are already 1 and working in our communities," Castle. Effect on economy The measure passed in the House , affect the entire nation and many busi es in Delaware that use migrant wol Any quick action could mean a stumt the economy if large groups of worke forced to leave the country. Many employers including poultry use a largely Latino work force. Durin rally Monday, many of these workers the day off, leaving the Georgetown P( plant operating at 30 percent effici, according to Perdue spokeswoman DeYoung, who said Perdue opposes th in its current form. "I believe that we need to be doing  to improve border security," said Sen. Carper. "In particular, I support hiring: border security agents, improving detection technology and enhancin[ enforcement powers at the border s agents can more effectively prevent t ists and ther criminals from unlav entering our country." Carper seeks revised bill But Carper said he could not suppo legislation as passed in the House be Continued on pa the it is istic ,,rof ring said ould less- kes. le in sale lants g the took rdue racy, Julie . bill nore Tom nore our our our rror- fully t the ause e 20