It’s Back! REAL ID Now in the Senate, Anti-PLO Language Returns With It

Washington,DC, March 28–Not satisfied with pushing his anti-immigration bill through the House without hearings or mark-ups, Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has found a new vehicle to push his agenda in the name of national security. That vehicle is the Emergency Supplemental (HR 1268), which is known, politically, as a must-pass bill. HR 1268 will send much needed money to American troops on the front line, as well as keep our promise to aid the millions of victims of the Asian tsunami.
The Senate has two options. They can take up the House Supplemental with the REAL ID attached to it or they could write their own version of the supplemental. Should the Senate pass it’s own version they will still face the REAL ID once they go to conference with the House.
Right now the Senate needs to hear from you that you oppose the REAL ID in, any form. We ask you to contact not only your two Senators but also the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, charged with making this crucial decision. Although Congress is in recess, this issue will be taken up as soon as April 6, 2005.
Contacting the Senate about your opposition to the REAL ID Act is crucial. Senate offices are already hearing daily from anti-immigrant groups. Its time they hear from the rest of America. Click the link below to take action:
Attempts were made to remove, from the House REAL ID Act, language prohibiting PLO spokespersons from entering the United States. Now, REAL ID, as attached to the House version of the Emergency Supplemental, includes a reference to old Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) language barring PLO members from gaining entry to the United States. The INA always included a waiver for the White House and State Department to use for diplomatic and national security reasons.
As REAL ID is currently written it does not include any reference to the waiver language in the INA, just the prohibition language. Once again, Congress is passing legislation obstructive to the Middle East peace process. What message does America send when President Bush invites Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House to discuss Palestinian statehood and Congress turns around and bans his entry?
Because this issue is moving quickly through the Senate, ADC urges you to
phone your two senators as well as the Republican and Democratic leadership
of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
1) Who are my Senators? Click here
and enter your zip code or select your state from the list.
2) Main Senate Switchboard (202) 224-3121
2) Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Republican Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee (202) 224-7363
3) Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee (202) 224-7292
To send a letter to the Senate on this important issue go to:
– Ever frustrated with your local DMV? Imagine yourself standing in line behind someone trying to prove, with various documentation, his or her immigration status and eligibility for a driver’s license. And it’s not just the person in front of you with an accent. Everyone will have to prove their eligibility to obtain a drivers license.
– Millions of people currently able to obtain a drivers license, who may be out of status with immigration documents, will continue to drive to work and to take their children to school, but will now do so being neither licensed nor insured.
– Hackers could find their way into the new national database containing social security numbers, fingerprints and biometric information on all drivers licensed in America.
– A woman and her children fleeing political or religious persecution is sent back to her country by the United States because of her “failure” to obtain the proper paper work documenting her oppression as she was fleeing her country and is presumed a terrorist and somehow taking advantage of America.
– Bounty hunters knock on doors searching for out-of status immigrants to turn over to the authorities.
All of these scenarios will become reality if REAL ID is passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.
We’re not looking for the Senate to change one or two sentences in this bill. The REAL ID Act is a bad bill and a bad idea. In its entirety it needs to be stripped from the Emergency Supplemental. We don’t need an anti-immigration agenda delivered on the backs of providing for America’s soldiers and aiding victims of the Tsunami in Asia.
As much as Sensenbrenner and anti-immigration groups attempt to weave their agenda into national security priorities, the bottom line is that nothing in Sensenbrenner’s bill would have prevented the 9/11 terrorists from obtaining drivers licenses or from boarding those planes.
Sensenbrenner knows Congress must pass this funding bill. To avoid hearings and congressional scrutiny of REAL ID’s provisions, the Congressman has attached his bill to the emergency supplemental. This brass decision goes directly against the wishes of President Bush. In a letter to congressional leaders, Mr. Bush wrote, “I urge the Congress not to attach to this proposal items that are not directly related to these emergencies abroad.”
This measure is costly and intrusive, further burdening state budgets by requiring they adapt new federal standards for licenses and record keeping.
Congress needs to reform America’s broken immigration system. The REAL ID Act does not adequately address our nation’s growing immigration problems and falls short of effectively and realistically keeping our country safe. Comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue.
#2-7 Provided by the National Immigration Forum
1. PLO Language: Language in the REAL ID Act has grave implications for achieving a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As its come out of the House and attached to the House version of the Emergency Supplemental, REAL ID includes a reference to old Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) language barring PLO members from gaining entry to the United States. The INA always included a waiver for the White House and State Department to use for diplomatic and national security reasons. As REAL ID is written now it does not include any reference to the waiver language in the INA-just the prohibition language.
At a minimum, if language regarding the PLO remains in the bill it must contain or reference the INA waiver.
2. Asylum: Raises the burden of proof for asylum and withholding of removal cases to make it very difficult for someone fleeing religious or political persecution to gain refuge in the U.S. Asylum seekers would have to show that persecution on the basis of race, religion, membership in social group, political opinion, or national origin was the central motive for their persecutor. It would require corroborating evidence, though obtaining such evidence would put family members or friends in danger. It would establish a standard of credibility that no member of Congress would be able to meet-any inconsistency between statements given to different persons would be a reason to deny asylum.
3. Guilt by association: It broadens the circumstances for which a person (and his family members) might be deported for providing support to a group which may have a connection to a terrorist group.
4.Due process: The REAL ID act would limit a person’s access to the federal courts to appeal an immigration judge’s decision. I would also limit a person’s ability to challenge in court the government’s decision to keep the person detained. It would eliminate stays of removal, so that a person may be deported even as his or her case continues to be heard on appeal.
5.Bounty hunters: The bill would allow bondsmen to decide when an immigrant is a “flight risk,” and to send bounty hunters after them (even if immigrant is not in violation of bond agreement). It would give bondsmen unprecedented access to an immigrant’s personal information. It would dramatically escalate the minimum bond for immigrants in removal proceedings to $10,000.
6.Drivers’ licenses: The Act would impose a complicated new driver’s license and ID bureaucracy on states, including a two-tiered license system for foreigners and U.S. citizens, and bans states from issuing regular driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
7.Border barriers: It provides a waiver from all laws (labor, environmental,etc) in order to expedite the construction of a wall on a portion of the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Rights Working Group Website:
The National Immigration Forum
Human Rights First

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