FOR TESTIMONY FOR HO’OKIPA BILL
+ Hawai‘i has a rich immigrant heritage. Waves of immigrants have come to Hawaii’s shores for more than 100 years. Immigrants were determined to work hard to make better lives for themselves and their children, and many succeeded. Our unique culture in Hawai‘i is due in large measure to the contributions of immigrants.
+ Notably, immigrants also played an important role in our nation’s history. Yet, the federal administration has adopted perverse immigration policies, and undocumented immigrants are a target. Immigrants are undocumented because they either crossed the border without being processed, which is a misdemeanor, or they entered the U.S. on a visa and overstayed their visa, which is a civil matter -- not a crime.
+ An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. Two-thirds of the adult undocumented immigrants have been in the U.S. for 10 years or more. Many have married spouses who are U.S. citizens, and many more have children who are U.S. citizens by birth. The crime rate of undocumented immigrants is 44% below that of native-born U.S. citizens.
+ The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 21,000 undocumented immigrants live in Hawai‘i, while the American Immigration Council’s estimate is 45,000. About 45% of Hawaii’s undocumented immigrants are from the Philippines, 15% from Japan, and most of the rest are from Asian and Pacific nations. 70% of Hawaii’s undocumented immigrants are at or above 200% of the poverty level, and 40% own their own homes.
+ President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25, 2017, which seeks to deport all undocumented immigrants from the U.S. The executive order also seeks to deputize local police to act as agents of federal immigration enforcement agencies, such as the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
+ President Obama was responsible for deporting more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, but he focused on those who had committed serious crimes. President Trump’s executive order makes no such distinction.
+ The Trump executive order has raised the level of fear among undocumented immigrants because the police, acting as ICE agents, may ask anyone they come into contact with about their immigration status, and that may lead to deportation.
+ The trust between the police and undocumented immigrants has been severed. Undocumented immigrants are now reluctant to report crimes or suspected crimes to the police, and they are reluctant to come forth as witnesses to crimes. As a result, our communities less safe for everyone.
+ Immigration is a federal function. States, counties, and other jurisdictions may decide voluntarily to cooperate with ICE, or they may not. The Constitution makes it clear that the federal government may not coerce States or their subdivisions to do so. In the interest of community safety, hundreds of cities and counties – and even several states – limit the cooperation of their local law enforcement agencies with ICE.
+ These jurisdictions are what has been called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. They do not provide any additional protections to undocumented immigrants that are not given to citizens. They merely limit the assistance that their local law enforcement agencies provide to ICE.
+ Two Ho’okipa (Welcoming) bills have been introduced in Hawaii’s Legislature to limit the cooperation of State and county law enforcement agencies with ICE. Specifically, HB 1994 has been introduced in the State House of Representatives, and SB 2290 has been introduced in the State Senate. These bills help to maintain community safety and keep Hawaii’s immigrant heritage alive.