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February 09, 2005

02/09/05 - News on Sensenbrenner REAL ID Act

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

TH 02/01/05 Sensenbrenner And Davis Bills Square Off
AI 02/08/05 Amnesty Intl USA Co-Signs Ltr Opposing REAL ID Act
CR 02/08/05 House BillWould Impose New Hardships
EM 02/08/05 Conservation Group Opposes Sensenbrenner “REAL ID Act”
HB 02/09/05 Caribbean Grps MIA As Advocacy Against REAL ID Act
NR 02/09/05 Immigration 2-Step: A Real Step For Immigration Reform.
WT 02/07/05 Opin: Unfinished Business
FI 02/07/05 Dpt Of Homeland Sec Seeking Power To Suspend All Laws
NS 02/07/05 Bill Would Give DHS Power To Break Laws
HE 02/07/05 Religious Activists Bear False Witness On Sensenbrenner
GO 02/07/05 Support Drivers License To Combat Illegal Immigration
IP 02/04/05 Rights-US: Anti-Terror Bill Targets Asylum Seekers
CV 02/03/05 Americans For Legal Immigration PAC Issues Statement

(Poster's Note: Probably more than you wanted to hear about this bill, but I thought I would include a sample of the news & PR about this bill (both Pro & Con).. Jay)


February 1, 2005

Sensenbrenner And Davis Bills Square Off

By Patrick O'Connor

Two powerful House committee chairmen are locked in a standoff over how to handle a federal driver-licensing standard, the first in what could be a number of intraparty Republican squabbles about immigration reform.

Pedro Sa Da Bandeira

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)

Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced a bill Wednesday to create a federal standard for state driver’s licenses. That same afternoon, Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) announced that he would offer legislation establishing almost identical standards.

The difference is that Sensenbrenner’s bill, the Real ID Act, also includes provisions to tighten asylum abuse, close a fence along the Mexican border near San Diego and expand the grounds for deportation in terrorism-related cases. Davis’s bill, on the other hand, focuses solely on the creation of a federal standard for state driver’s licenses.

“I think it’s important for all members to have the chance to cast separate votes on separate issues,” Davis said in a press release last week. “All the provisions in the larger … bill are important, but my primary focus has been on ID security, and that’s why I’m eager to see the House vote on stand-alone legislation.”

Sensenbrenner himself acknowledged last week that his bill could have a hard time making it through the Senate, and one House aide familiar with both bills said Davis’s legislation would make it much harder for House Democrats to explain their “no” votes back home because the asylum and deportation provisions were not included.

Immigration reform is a particularly divisive issue for congressional Republicans, especially after President Bush told members of the House and Senate GOP at their West Virginia retreat Friday that he hoped to push a guest-worker program through Congress that would grant a reprieve to illegal immigrants already working in this country.

Sensenbrenner and many of his allies in the House object to guest-worker programs, especially ones granting any form of amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Aides to both chairmen insisted that the standoff over the driver’s-license standards was strictly procedural.

“This is primarily a question of process and jurisdiction,” Davis spokesman David Marin said. Davis wanted to introduce his own bill, Marin said, because he had originally introduced the driver’s-license language that was included in last year’s intelligence-reform bill and marked that language up in his committee.

H.R. 10, the original House version of last year’s bill, included all of Sensenbrenner’s provisions and passed the House by a vote of 282-134 last October. But the three provisions now included in Sensenbrenner’s bill were eventually stripped during conference and left out of the final intelligence-reform bill. Sensenbrenner eventually agreed to back the intelligence bill after leadership promised him a floor vote on the three provisions.

“[Sensenbrenner] has a commitment from leadership and the White House,” said Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for the Judiciary Committee chairman. “This is more jurisdictional than anything else.”

The Real ID Act had 120 co-sponsors as of press time Monday, including Davis and five other prominent House committee chairmen. It was expected to receive one of the Speaker’s high-priority bill numbers and be voted on sometime next week, Lungren said.

Meanwhile, Sensenbrenner and four other House conferees on the intelligence bill wrote Bush last week urging him to fund fully the immigration provisions within the bill. Their recommendations included doubling the number of Border Patrol agents over the next five years, tripling the number of interior Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and tripling the bed capacity at immigration detention centers, many of which are now leased from county facilities.

With regard to licenses, the Real ID Act does not set standards for who is allowed to drive a car, but rather sets standards for how that license is used as a federal document. For example, if the act were to pass, airlines would need further verification about the citizenship of passengers from states that grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

A number of immigration advocates condemned Sensenbrenner’s bill last week for what they described as the strain it would put on refugees and other asylum-seekers. Human Rights First and a number of other pro-immigration groups have already indicated that they will fight the Real ID Act and have organized a broad coalition to combat the legislation.

On the other side, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) last week applauded Sensenbrenner for introducing his bill and vowed to back it on the grounds that it would help prevent terrorism.

Sensenbrenner insisted last week that his bill is not about immigration but rather about national security. “This is about terrorism, not immigration,” Sensenbrenner told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is expected to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.


Amnesty International USA Co-Signs Letter To Congress Opposing REAL ID Act

February 8, 2005.

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the under-signed organizations, urge you to oppose Sections 103 and 104 of the REAL ID Act (H.R.418), which would give the Department of Homeland Security sweeping new authority to deport non-citizens. AAlready, anyone who engages in terrorist activity already is inadmissible, deportable, and barred from asylum under our lawunder, using a statutory definition of "terrorist activity" so broad that it could, if read for its plain meaning, apply to a prank. [See 8 U.S.C. § 212(a)(3)(B)(iii)]

Sections 103 and 104 would broaden the definition even further, so far that the government would be likely to deport innocent people, even some, paradoxically, who were themselves victims of terrorists. These provisions would:

· Make immigrants deportable—and refugees ineligible for asylum—based on the actions of their spouses and parents. If sections 103 and 104 become law, a 137-year-old child threatened with death because her father had joined an insurgency against her country's government could find herself denied asylum based solely on the fact that she is her father's daughter. A narrow exception based on lack of knowledge or renunciation of the father's affiliation would do nothing to protect a child who knew her father had joined a rebel movement, but had no control over his actions, or could not "renounce" an affiliation she never had to begin with.

· Allow immigrants to be deported for exercising rights of free speech that are protected under the U.S. Constitution. Under current law, anyone who engages in or incites terrorist activity is already deportable. Under sections 103 and 104, the 137-year-old girl in the previous example could also be deported—and denied asylum—even if all her father did was write essays justifying armed struggle against a dictatorial regime.· Greatly broaden the range of groups that could be considered "terrorist organizations" under the law. The REAL ID Act would give the Department of Homeland Security authority to deport a non-citizen for membership in any group, based only on based only on DHS's its own contention that it is it is "a group of two or more individuals, whether organized or not", which has a subgroup that "endorses or espouses" DHS deems to be terroristm. The REAL ID Act does not apparently limit this authority to senior DHS officials or provide any require ment that the government provide public notice that it considers such a group to be a terrorist organization.· Require non-citizens to meet a virtually impossible burden of proof, tointo convinceinge the government that they did not knowinglyare not knowing supporters of terrorism. Our law now makes foreigners nationals inadmissible if they knew or should have known that the support they provided to a group would further the group's terrorist activity. Under the REAL ID Act, a person would be deportable unless he or she could show "by clear and convincing evidence" that he or she did not know that the group they were supporting hadwas a terrorist organizationties to terrorism un under the law's extremely broad definition of that term. Since it is almost impossible to prove a lack of knowledge of anything, this standard would make it nearly impossible for an innocent immigrant to defend herself against deportation. This would, for example, allow the deportation of an Sri Lankan immigrant who sent donated moneyfunds for tsunami disaster relief in the Aceh province of Indonesia, not knowing that the organization that received the funds had a subgroup that DHS considered terrorist.

· ExacerbateWorsen a problem that has arisen under current law, whereby Allow the Department of Justice has argued that victims of terrorist or militant groups should have beenbe deported or denied asylum because they were subject to extortion by terrorist groups. For example a Colombian rancher who, at the point of a gun, gave cattle to a guerrilla group may already find himself subject to deportation and denied asylum under current law. This would mean that the rancher's very reason for seeking asylum could bar him from obtaining it. By making people deportable and ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal for any connection to terrorist activity – even when they bear no personal responsibility – the REAL ID Act would encourage such extremist interpretations of existing law.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.



American Immigration Lawyers Association
Amnesty International USA
Center for Immigrants Rights at the Community Level
Center for National Security Studies
Center for Victims of Torture
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Human Rights First
Idaho Office for Refugees
Irish American Unity Conference
Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc.
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Council of La Raza
National Immigration Forum
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Peace Action Wisconsin
Tahirih Justice Center
The Multiracial Activist
Vermont Refugee Assistance
Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs,
Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project
Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children
World Organization for Human Rights USA
World Relief - Chicago


William J. Aceves, Professor of Law, California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA
Jeff Joseph, Senior Partner, Joseph Law Firm, PC, Denver, CO
Ira J. Kurzban, Esq., Past president, American Immigration Lawyers' Association;
Author of Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook
Estelle McKee and Stephen Yale-Loehr, Co-Directors, Cornell Law School Asylum and CAT Appeals Clinic
Carlina Tapia-Ruano, American Immigration Lawyers Association, First Vice-President; Illinois Institute of Technology-Kent College of Law, Adjust Professor
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Esq.; Adjunct Professor of Law,
Washington College of Law, American University, Washington D.C.

*For individual signers, institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only


Press Release - Human Rights First

New Report from U.S. Religious Freedom Commission Exposes Barriers Facing Refugees

House Bill, To Be Voted On This Week, Would Impose New Hardships

February 8, 2005
Tioka Tokedira
212-845 5246

Today, the bi-partisan U.S. government Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a comprehensive report that documents a number of serious failings in U.S. treatment of refugees who seek asylum in the United States. The 500 page report provides unprecedented information about the challenges that refugees face in seeking asylum in the U.S. and recommends changes that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must make to ensure the proper treatment of asylum seekers.

"This report confirms just how difficult it already is for refugees who flee from religious and other persecution to navigate their way through the U.S. asylum system," said Eleanor Acer, Director of Human Rights First's Asylum Program. "Ironically, the House is scheduled to vote this week on a bill that would make these problems even worse."

That bill, the REAL ID Act (H.R. 418), is being spearheaded by Republican James Sensenbrenner, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would, among other things, give immigration officers and immigration judges broad leeway to deny a refugee asylum based on alleged "statements" taken in unreliable circumstances - the very kind of statements that the Commission, in its report, concluded were "unreliable and incomplete." The Commission's experts specifically found that immigration judges frequently cited to these unreliable documents when denying asylum.

The Commission, which monitors religious freedom around the world and advises the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on religious freedom, was authorized in 2003 by Congress to undertake this study relating to asylum seekers in "expedited removal," the deportation process that allows immigration officers to order deportations, a power previously entrusted only to immigration judges.

The Commission's experts had unprecedented access to the asylum system, and the report contains statistics and information that have never been publicly released before.

The findings of the Commission's study include:

There are serious problems with the expedited process that put asylum seekers at risk of improper return - in 15% of the cases observed by the Commission experts, people who expressed a fear of return were not given a chance to be interviewed by an asylum officer;

Most asylum seekers are held in jails or jail-like facilities that the Commission found inappropriate for asylum seekers. These conditions create a serious risk of psychological harm to asylum seekers;

About 32% of asylum seekers are jailed for 90 days or more and the average length of their detention in these jail-like facilities is 64 days. Some are held longer; release rates vary widely across the country, with parole rates as low as 0.5 in New Orleans, 8.4% in New York and 3.8% in Newark, New Jersey;

Statistics show a significant drop in the rate at which local immigration officers have released asylum seekers from these jail-like facilities on parole in the years since September 11;

Asylum seekers who did not have an attorney had a much lower chance of being granted asylum than those who did;

There are significant variations in the rate at which immigration judges grant asylum - from court to court, and from judge to judge within the same court - requiring better quality assurance and administrative review;

The approval of asylum appeals in expedited cases has dropped significantly since the Department of Justice made changes in 2002. While the Board of Immigration Appeals sustained 24% of these appeals in 2001, only 2 to 4% of these appeals have been granted since 2002; and

There are serious impediments to communication within the Department of Homeland Security and it is exceedingly difficult to resolve inter-bureau issues, leading the Commission to recommend that the Department create a high level refugee position to address asylum matters.

Human Rights First has documented the difficulties that refugees who seek asylum face in these expedited procedures and in immigration jails, most recently in its January 2004 report In Liberty's Shadow: U.S. Detention of Asylum Seekers in the Era of Homeland Security. Human Rights First has recommended that the Department of Homeland Security create a high-level refugee protection position and formal rules to ensure that refugees who seek asylum are not needlessly jailed. The Commission concurs in these recommendations.

- 30 -


For the past quarter century, Human Rights First (the new name of Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) has worked in the United States and abroad to create a secure and humane world by advancing justice, human dignity and respect for the rule of law. We support human rights activists who fight for basic freedoms and peaceful change at the local level; protect refugees in flight from persecution and repression; help build a strong international system of justice and accountability; and make sure human rights laws and principles are enforced in the United States and abroad.


For Immediate Release
February 8, 2005
Contact: William Lutz (202) 772-0269

Conservation Group Opposes Sensenbrenner “Real Id Act” Proposal to Waive All Environmental Laws, Eliminate Judicial Oversight for Border Construction Projects

While Sensenbrenner Claims That Legislation is Limited to Proposed San Diego Border Fence, In Reality Provision Would Apply to 7,500 Miles of U.S. Border with Both Mexico and Canada

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Defenders of Wildlife today announced its strong opposition to provisions of H.R. 418, the “Real ID Act,” introduced by House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on January 26 and scheduled to be heard on the House floor tomorrow. Although the legislation primarily addresses national security and immigration issues, Section 102(c) of H.R. 418 also includes sweeping language allowing the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to exempt the agency from all federal, state and local environmental laws when constructing walls, fences, roads and other barriers along U.S. borders. Although Representative Sensenbrenner has repeatedly described H.R. 418 as applying only to a border fencing project in San Diego, section 102(c)(1) would in reality likely waive laws in all areas not only along, but “in the vicinity of”, U.S. international borders with both Mexico and Canada—nearly 7,500 miles in total.

“While ensuring our national security is essential, allowing exemptions from all environmental laws along our international borders with both Mexico and Canada is extreme and unnecessary,” stated Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. “Proposed construction projects along the border often have the potential for significant impacts to both communities and the environment, and our federal laws are flexible enough to ensure that these resources are protected in our efforts to improve national security.”

Many U.S. border areas run near or through national parks, forests and monuments, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas and other environmentally sensitive areas. In fact, nearly half of the 1,900 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border run through federal public lands, while the figure is approximately 25% for the U.S.-Canadian border. More than 365 miles of U.S. borderlands are within the National Park system alone, running through national treasures such as Glacier, Voyageurs, Isla Royale, and Big Bend National Parks, and Organ Pipe Cactus and Grand Portage National Monuments. Many of this country’s most spectacular wildlife, including grizzly bears, jaguars, Sonoran pronghorn, wolves and woodland caribou, also depend upon protected public lands along U.S. borderlands for migration corridors between countries. H.R. 418 would eliminate vital protections under the Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act and other laws intended to protect these species, laws that every other federal agency must obey.

Defenders of Wildlife is one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and habitat, and was named one of America's Top 100 Charities by Worth Magazine. With more than 480,000 members and supporters, Defenders is an effective voice for wildlife and habitat issues. To learn more about Defenders of Wildlife, please visit



Caribbean Groups Mia As Advocacy Against Real Id Act Picks Up Steam

Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Weds. Feb. 9, 2005: Caribbean-American advocacy organizations were noticeably missing in action from a letter sent to U.S. congressional lawmakers yesterday, voicing opposition to the REAL ID Act.

A close examination of the list of 26 major rights and ethnic organizations and individual advocates who signed on to the letter, revealed no Caribbean groups, despite the fact that hundreds of Caribbean immigrants could be impacted by this measure.

The bill, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), includes a call for strong security standards for the issuance of drivers' licenses; the tightening of the asylum system; the closing of the 3-mile hole in the fortified U.S./Mexico border fence near San Diego. Additionally, advocates say the bill will only “exacerbate” a problem that has arisen under current law, whereby the Department of Justice has argued that victims of terrorist or militant groups should have been deported or denied asylum because they were subject to extortion by terrorist groups.

Top groups signing in opposition to the proposal, set for a vote in the House next week, include the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Immigrants Rights at the Community Level, the Center for National Security Studies, Center for Victims of Torture, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Human Rights First, Idaho Office for Refugees, Irish American Unity Conference, Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc., Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Council of La Raza, National Immigration Forum, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Peace Action Wisconsin, Tahirih Justice Center, The Multiracial Activist, Vermont Refugee Assistance, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, World Organization for Human Rights USA and World Relief – Chicago.

Last week, Caribbean immigrant advocate, Irwine Clare, told HBN that the lobbying effort on behalf of Caribbean immigrants by his organization, the Caribbean Immigrant Services, had slowed to a crawl because of the lack of human and financial support for their push for immigration reform. He was unavailable for comment on this story last evening.


Meanwhile, Florida Congressman, Kendrick Meek yesterday joined with Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), and other rights groups, in offering an amendment to the REAL ID Act.

"The asylum provisions contained in Section 101 do not make our country safer," Meek said in a statement. "These provisions merely codify an unacceptable attitude of discrimination toward Haitians, Cubans, Latin Americans and many others seeking the protection of the United States."

He noted that the provisions contained in Section 101 of the REAL ID Act (H.R. 418) were considered and rejected by the 9-11 Commission.

Additionally, he noted that the current system provides significant safeguards to protect national security including a bar on asylum for aliens who have engaged in terrorist activity or who are deemed a threat to the United States. –


Immigration Two-Step: A Real Step For Immigration Reform

By Gary Andres

Anyone remotely interested in comprehensive immigration reform should watch the action in Congress this week about drivers' licenses and terrorists. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives begins floor consideration of the Real ID Act (H.R. 418), legislation drafted by House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, which contains the antiterrorist provisions dropped from the intelligence-reform (post-9/11 Commission) legislation late last year.

The bill, introduced by Sensenbrenner and cosponsored by 115 of his House colleagues on January 31, improves U.S. border security in a variety of tangible ways. Sensenbrenner said the main purpose of the bill is to "...prevent another 9/11 attack by disrupting terrorist travel." It establishes uniform rules that states must follow in granting temporary drivers' licenses for foreign visitors, making sure they expire when visas do. It also establishes tough new rules for confirming identity before licenses are issued. Moreover, the legislation tightens the existing asylum system abused by terrorists and closes a three-mile hole in the fortified U.S./Mexico border fence.

The Real ID bill nearly tanked the entire intelligence-reform bill at the end of the last Congress. Sensenbrenner initially refused to sign the conference agreement demanding insertion of the Real ID bill, and was backed by a large phalanx of House Republicans. But Senate negotiators objected to its inclusion in the final compromise. So House leaders made a commitment to Sensenbrenner to move the measure early in 2005. This week's actions follow through on that promise.

The truth is that the measure should have passed last year and never dropped from the comprehensive bill. It's an important security measure that strengthens our borders and closes loopholes used by terrorists. But in an ironic twist, delaying the legislation until this week also provides a useful lens to focus on immigration reform in toto. And while proponents of broader reform in the Senate may insist on adding the Real ID measure to a more comprehensive bill (a move that could permanently kill this border-security measure), passing the Sensenbrenner bill quickly could actually improve the chances of broad and more effective immigration reform passing later this Congress.

Debating the merits of immigration legislation, like that supported by President Bush and others, will result in many fine columns by talented writers and analysts, here and elsewhere. My argument concerns tactics and process. Problems with border security and the threats associated with it (terrorist, criminal, economic, etc.) are some of the greatest obstacles to passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Those opposed to guest-worker programs and other immigration liberalizing moves are against these measures for a couple of reasons. But a key ingredient to finding common ground is seriousness about porous borders.

Immigration-reform opponents don't trust the U.S. government to secure its own borders. For a variety of reasons they believe these efforts have not been pursued with enough resources, vigor, or enthusiasm. The number of illegal immigrants in this country makes their case for them. For example, Victor Davis Hanson wrote recently that, "new reports suggest that there may be not eight million, but almost 20 million illegal aliens in the United States, a population larger than most entire states. Four hundred billion dollars in taxes — almost the current annual budget deficit — are not collected due to a growing underground cash economy."

The social, economic and moral costs of porous borders are breathtaking. Taking border security more seriously is the first step toward broadening a dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform. "I think the Real ID bill is a litmus test," a former House Republican leadership aide familiar with the debate told me. "If Congress can't pass this kind of common-sense legislation to strengthen our borders, the chances of getting consensus on some broader measure is doomed."

He's right. And demonstrating seriousness on issues will help build confidence and trust, providing momentum for further sound reforms. Enacting the Real ID bill is a first step. But if the legislation gets bogged down in the Senate, and added to a growing laundry list called "comprehensive reform" like some have suggested, those interested in any kind of immigration reform — narrow or broad — better get ready to wait a long time.

There are obviously a host of other issues about broader immigration reform that must be addressed before the issue is ripe for congressional prime time. "We're just not ready to pass comprehensive legislation yet," a Republican senator told me. "But all sides need to continue to talk to each other."

The broader immigration debate should also raise a variety of questions about the state of contemporary American culture, and the societal infrastructure available to help immigrants become Americans. Opponents of liberalizing policies have legitimate concerns about whether our civic institutions and societal values are still strong enough to assimilate immigrants into the country the way we did 50 years ago. As Hanson writes, in the past "...measured, legal immigration, English immersion, multiracialism instead of multiculturalism, and integration have ensured that past legal immigrants from Mexico are among America's finest citizens." His comments are true for immigrants from other parts of the world, as well. But do those common attributes that bound Americans together in the past still exist, and are the cultural institutions and immigration policies strong enough to create the unum out of the pluribus? All good questions.

That's why anyone interested in a healthy debate about immigration should support the two-step approach offered by Sensenbrenner this week. Because as long as those engaged in the immigration debate question whether we have the political will and strategic wisdom to secure even our own borders, the answers to these other questions are self-evident. Comprehensive immigration reform, such as that envisioned by President Bush, is doomed.

— Gary Andres is vice chairman of research and policy at the Dutko Group Companies and a frequent NRO contributor.


Unfinished Business

By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

If all goes according to plan, the House of Representatives this week will take important, if long overdue, steps toward securing the nation's borders and interior. It was outrageous that these steps, which were among the corrective actions identified by the September 11 Commission, were not taken last year. Worse yet, those who prevented what are now provisions of Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner's "REAL ID" bill from becoming law in 2004 are no less determined to block this legislation again in 2005 — and, thereby, to perpetuate America's vulnerability.

The REAL ID Act (H.R. 418) would address four manifestly unacceptable situations with concrete measures.

First, the bill establishes nationwide standards for driver's licenses. This is critical since these are the identification forms most often used for such security-sensitive purposes as boarding commercial aircraft, gaining access to federal facilities and establishing bank accounts.

In particular, REAL ID would require that the states' license-issuing authorities establish that the applicant has legal resident status in the United States, and that his or her license will be valid only as long as that remains the case.

Such eminently sensible requirements have been endorsed by both the outgoing and incoming secretaries of homeland security, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, respectively.

Coupled with mandates to prevent theft, counterfeiting or inappropriate duplication of licenses, they will help prevent the sort of widespread driver's license fraud that enabled the September 11 hijackers legally to obtain dozens of such IDs. That goal would be further advanced if every state voluntarily integrated biometric data in their licenses, as some have already begun doing.

Second, the REAL ID Act would make it more difficult for terrorists to seek and obtain asylum in the United States. As Mr. Sensenbrenner has put it, the objective is to ensure that "terrorists, like the one who plotted the '93 World Trade Center bombing and the man who shot up the entrance to the CIA headquarters, could not get into the country and roam around as an asylum applicant."

Third, the Sensenbrenner bill would waive environmental laws that have been used to prevent completion of a border fence near San Diego where a 3½ mile gap allows illegal aliens easy access to the United States.

Finally, the REAL ID bill would make it clear that members of a terrorist organization or group that "endorses or espouses terrorist activity" are inadmissible to the United States. It also facilitates deporting any such individuals found in this country.

How, one might ask, could anyone object to these provisions? While they seem straightforward and sensible — and, more to the point, essential when the nation is at war with a hostile Islamofascist ideology whose adherents have proven adept at exploiting our civil liberties — the powers authorized by REAL ID are, nonetheless, strenuously opposed by advocates for illegal aliens and groups sympathetic with, if not actually tied to, the terrorists.

More serious threats to enactment of REAL ID's provisions, however, come from those bent on tying the Sensenbrenner bill to action on one form or another of legislation offering what amounts to amnesty for illegal aliens. The president's proposal for immigration "reform" and variations espoused by Republican senators such as Larry Craig of Idaho and John McCain of Arizona are bitterly opposed by many other Republicans.

As Mr. Sensenbrenner told The Washington Times: "I think they're making a mistake by trying to use this as a horse to get more controversial provisions enacted. That would be a big mistake and would probably jeopardize passage of any reform designed to increase security, as well as reforms designed to make our immigration laws more workable."

The United States urgently needs a national debate about how to address the security, as well as the economic and social, implications of a broken immigration system. It cannot, however, safely afford to wait to fix identified and readily correctible problems with identification, border and internal security until it has achieved consensus on the best way to deal with millions of aliens illegally in this country.

It is bad enough the latter fixes were not included, as they should have been, when the Congress acted on other September 11 Commission recommendations last year. Worse yet, some of the provisions adopted in response to those recommendations and as a sop to Mr. Sensenbrenner and his supporters — notably, providing for substantially more Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers — are not being fully funded in the new 2006 federal budget unveiled yesterday.

This week, the House of Representatives must take up once again the challenge of providing urgently needed tools to those seeking to assure the security of our borders and homeland. And the American people — who want and deserve no less — should make it clear they will hold accountable those who stand in the way of secure driver's licenses, completed border fences and sensible policies toward terrorists in this country.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.


(as found on:

Department Of Homeland Security Seeking Power To Suspend All Laws

Posted on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 15:58:16 PST by JWSmythe

On January 26, 2005, Rep. Sensenbrenner introduced the REAL ID Act of 2005 (H.R. 418). In the name of homeland security, it includes a number of items changing immigration laws, use of drivers' licenses, etc.

But -- most overlooked -- is Section 102 of this bill. It would empower the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend any and all laws in order to ensure the "expeditious" construction of a set of barriers and roads south of San Diego, to keep illegal immigrants out. It also would prohibit ANY judicial review of the Secretary of Homeland Security's decision to suspend any law. ON EDIT: While the law the bill references mentions barriers and roads "near San Diego," it does not appear to be (technically speaking) limited to that area -- but to any barriers or roads "in the vicinity of the United States border."


Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103 note) is amended to read as follows:

`(c) Waiver-

`(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.

`(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall have jurisdiction--

`(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or

`(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.'.

What does this mean? What laws might the Secretary of Homeland Security suspend?

The first obvious sets of laws that would come under attack would be environmental and labor laws. On the environmental side, think "Endangered Species Act." On the labor side, think "Davis-Bacon" prevailing wage laws and the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Also think "whistleblower laws." Homeland Security wouldn't want any pesky do-gooders blowing the whistle on corruption in contract awards.

But wait, would all of these suspensions only apply to the physical, on-location construction of the roads and barriers?

Nope! There's no such limitation in the law. You can follow this right to suspend the laws anywhere someone might be claiming legal rights and slowing down the process. The manufacturers of equipment and materials would certainly fall under this provision, for example. The government workers dealing with any aspect of this construction, in Washington or California or wherever would also fall under this provision. A city council objecting to something about the project could fall under this provision.

It's an incredible usurpation of the rule of law. A cabinet secretary is given the right to suspend any and all laws. And guess what? The courts are prohibited from reviewing his decision! Perfect! So the Secretary can abuse his "authority" all he wants. No review. No nothing. Welcome to the Second Term.

Let me repeat the language:

"the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion"


"the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion"

Got it?

The bill may be going to the House floor next week. ON EDIT: Here's a link to the bill:

Editor: Some of us would read this to be that the Department of Homeland Security is seeking to have the power to suspend any law which they feel may not be in their best interest, to set up nazi-like checkpoints anywhere in America. These checkpoints on the surface would be to curb illegal immigration, but in reality would be more on the order of having a legal reason to stop citizens for any reason when traveling from any point to any point.

Some laws are never used. Some laws, if worded too vaguely, can be used for anything. Vague laws are very dangerous.

In this case, giving DHS power to suspend any law, if you should be traveling from point A to point B, they could now have the right to search you, your vehicle (U.S. Constitution, 4th amendment), waive the need for a trial (U.S. Constitution, 5th amendment) and if they feel that they should hold you indefinately (U.S. Constitution, 6th and 8th amendments). Lets say that they decide that you're a threat for something you've said, something you've written, or a newspaper that you may have (Hmmmm, U.S. Constitution, 1st amendment).

Lets wrap this in a scenerio that they'd like to play off. Say you are of the Muslim faith, 3rd generation American, with few printed stories from Al Jazeera, with a pocket knife and a roll of twine, obviously you were going to do something bad.

Now lets give it another scenerio. You're a farmer from the mid-west, with a roll of twine, a pocket knife, a printed copy of the latest edition of the NRA magazine, and a hunting rifle, legally stored in the trunk of your car.

Where I grew up, the later scenerio could have been 50% of the vehicles on the road.

In either scenerio, these are Americans, who have committed no crimes. You would get no trial, because the courts have no jurisdiction over you. It is up to their whim to what happens to you. You may get jail time at an un-named facility, without the right to appeal. They may decide to up the ante a bit.

It wouldn't be hard to add charges to this. 20 gallons of explosive materials. 10+ pounds of corrosive acids. 5+ gallons of poisonous liquids. If you have a car, you're carrying these around every day. Gasoline, your car battery, and antifreeze.

Myself, this scares me. I may have a roll of twine in my car. I may have a pocket knife, and I may have many printed materials from this web site. Am I a danger or a terrorist? No. I'm a regular hard-working American citizen. Could I end up in jail or worse if a DHS checkpoint guard is having a bad day? Yes.

How broadly they interpret a U.S. Border is even worse. There is currently a U.S. Customs/Immigration checkpoint North of San Diego. If you're white, you may pass. If you're hispanic, you will be stopped. Every time I've gone through that checkpoint, I've seen hispanic people being loaded up in Immigration vans, assumingly to be deported.


Anti-Immigration Bill Would Give DHS Special Power To Break Laws

by NewStandard Staff

Feb 7 - Immigrants’ rights groups and environmentalists are concerned about a bill making its way through Congress which would, among other things, mandate that more fence be built along the California-Mexico border. The legislation, known as the Real ID Act of 2005, gives the Homeland Security Secretary broad power to "waive" all laws he "determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction" of a proposed barrier on the border north of Tijuana, Mexico. The law also strips power from all courts to hear any cases regarding the Secretary’s decision.

While proponents of the bill insist that the wall is needed to stem illegal immigration and to prevent terrorists from entering the country unprotected, the legislation’s critics say that past border control measures have failed to stop migration across the border and have only served to make the trip more risky for immigrants (previous coverage). Additionally, environmentalists weigh in against the bill out of concern that the needed terrain changes and construction will disrupt the delicate nearby Tijuana Estuary, home to rare wildlife.

The controversial barrier is just one part of the Real ID Act causing concern among rights groups. Other provisions make seeking political asylum in the US more difficult and make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses


Religious Activists Bear False Witness On Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill

by James R. Edwards, Jr.

Posted Feb 7, 2005

A cabal of religious lobbies is attacking badly needed asylum reforms contained in House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner’s 9/11 bill. But the fact is that faith-motivated Americans -- Christians in particular -- should strongly support this legislation.

Some of the usual suspects, who regularly align themselves with radical organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union in favor of open-borders policies, are again preaching a false doctrine. Thus, their opinion should be viewed as suspect.

These activists in religious trappings claim that people who face persecution for their religious faith could possibly be sent back to their persecutors, if asylum were made the least bit harder to obtain. Well, asylum seekers whose “religion” calls them to terrorist violence certainly aren’t wanted here, especially if that false religion requires trying to destroy America and murder millions of Americans.

In fact, there is scarcely a chance of returning bonafide victims of religious persecution, even with the proposed improvements.

These religious groups seem to read Scripture highly selectively, when they refer to it at all -- hardly an acceptable approach for orthodox evangelicals. They cite passages such as Leviticus 19:33-34 and Exodus 22:21, which told ancient Israelites not to mistreat aliens living among them.

However, such verses say nothing about what the policies for admitting foreigners should look like. Nor do they speak to permissible, prudential safeguards in the face of fraud and terrorist schemes. And these advocates utterly ignore other verses close by that mandate capital punishment, for instance.

The REAL ID Act would correct some truly outrageous loopholes in America’s asylum system. H.R. 418, with 125 cosponsors, will affirm the longstanding, common-sense legal standard that the alien seeking asylum bears the burden of proving eligibility for asylum.

Further, the bill will allow asylum adjudicators to consider the person’s credibility -- a routine practice used every single day in criminal cases, where the defendant’s fate may include the death penalty -- and corroborating evidence.

Most importantly, the legislation makes it harder for terrorists to qualify for asylum. It would redress the Orwellian judicial activism of -- you guessed it -- the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that punishing someone because of membership in a guerilla or terrorist organization counts as “persecution” because of his political opinion. Moreover, current law actually allows members of terrorist groups to qualify for asylum (though not known terrorists themselves, who likely aren’t even named on watch lists).

That poison concoction has led to what the Board of Immigration Appeals has called “the entirely novel view that the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government is a ‘political opinion’ like any other and that no government may object to its expression.”

In other words, activist judicial leftists think that terrorists whose home government may justifiably prosecute them because of their terrorism deserve asylum in the United States.

Common-sensical readers are asking themselves about now, why would the religious left or right favor a system that currently makes it easy for terrorist aliens to gain asylum in this country?

Scripture tells Christians that they should be as wise as serpents yet as innocent as doves. The God-given purpose of civil government is to protect the innocent and punish evildoers, as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13. That government’s first priority is law-abiding citizens under its jurisdiction -- the neighbors within its borders.

Our asylum system is chock full of holes. The 9/11 Commission documented the vast extent to which foreign terrorists have exploited America’s immigration system, including asylum. The commission staff reported, “A number of terrorists discussed in [this report] abused the asylum system.”

The Justice Department Inspector General has found that 97 percent of asylum claimants released by authorities disappear into the country. Officials say that 90 percent of aliens claiming asylum when they reach a U.S. port of entry aren’t detained, despite the law’s requirements. These releases often occur based on flimsy stories of persecution.

Entire criminal enterprises have built up to exploit these asylum loopholes and to coach fakers. In November, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty broke up an Indonesian fraud ring in Northern Virginia. In addition to fake documents, a huge part of the five-year operation involved asylum scams.

This group routinely prepared fraudulent asylum applications alleging persecution on the basis of the person’s Christian faith. The indictment said many of those applications contained essentially the same story.

No one wants to send anyone who actually faces wrongful persecution back to it by accident. But by the same token, we cannot ignore the abundant evidence that false claims of religious persecution are a growth industry. And the fact that terrorist groups have actively exploited this loophole for years raises the stakes exponentially.

The threat is real, and civil authorities have a responsibility -- a biblical responsibility -- to safeguard the American people by plugging loopholes like those in our asylum system. Congress must use a little serpently wisdom to shut down the huge threat our leaky asylum laws pose, which allow the lowest snakes on earth -- those who would fake a claim of religious persecution -- to use our laws against us for undeserved gain.

Mr. Edwards, coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, is an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute.


Support The Sensenbrenner Drivers License Bill To Help Combat Illegal Immigration

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced the REAL ID act on the floor of the House. The REAL ID act contains four main provisions:

-- An applicant for a driver’s license must prove lawful presence in the United States. States may still issue the license if such proof is not produced but must stamp it in such a way as to show permission to legally be in the United States was not presented. Such a stamped license cannot be used for any federal purpose such as boarding a commercial flight.

-- Asylum laws are tightened so that terrorists may not enter the country and move around freely as an asylum applicant.

-- A 3.5 mile stretch of fence near San Diego that has been stopped by environmentalists is completed.

-- The present law that doesn’t allow an alien already in the United States to be deported because of affiliation with terrorist groups is changed.

We the undersigned believe the REAL ID act is a step on the road to controlling illegal immigration in the United States by controlling the identification of our citizens. We petition all members of the United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President George W. Bush to enact this bill into law forthwith.



Rights-Us: Anti-Terror Bill Targets Asylum Seekers

William Fisher

NEW YORK, Feb 4 (IPS) - Controversial anti-immigration provisions that were stripped from an intelligence bill last year have resurfaced as the ”Real ID Act”, setting the stage for a partisan fight in Congress that could affect the cases of thousands of asylum-seekers.

Authored by the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a conservative republican from Wisconsin, the bill has 115 co-sponsors, all but one republican.

It sets tougher security standards for the issuance of drivers' licenses, including proof of lawful presence in the U.S. All states would be required to comply, to ”eliminate weak links in domestic identity security.”

The act would also close the three-mile gap in the fortified U.S./Mexico border fence near San Diego, California.

But it is the asylum provisions of the proposal that have drawn fire from human rights groups.

These would amend the refugee system, which Rep. Sensenbrenner says has been ”abused by terrorists”, allowing immigration judges to determine witness credibility in asylum cases, and raising the bar for many asylum-seekers to prove they are fleeing persecution in their home countries.

”It is deeply unfortunate that Chairman Sensenbrenner has made his top priority an unwarranted attack on immigrants,” Tim Edgar, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told IPS.

Another group, Human Rights First (HRF), warned that ”if enacted, the bill's anti-refugee provisions would fundamentally change U.S. asylum law. Many refugees who have fled brutal human rights abuses -- including torture, rape, and other horrific violence -- will be barred from receiving asylum under these provisions.”

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush is moving in the opposite direction, pushing a ”Guest Worker” programme that would loosen restrictions on immigrant workers.

Speaking to reporters last month, Bush said his programme would link up ”a willing worker and a willing employer. The system right now spawns coyotes and smugglers and, you know, people willing to break the law to get people in our country.”

Bush's proposal would provide temporary legal status to illegal immigrants already in the country and to foreigners abroad to work for three-year intervals in the United States.

Sensenbrenner rejects this idea, believing Congress should act first to prevent illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses and pass other immigration restrictions.

”I think it's important to get this legislation enacted and we ought to divide the debate between security and immigration. If we mix the two, the word will get out that immigrants are a security threat,” Sensenbrenner said.

”American citizens have the right to know who is in their country, that people are who they say they are, and that the name on a driver's license is the holder's real name, not some alias,” he said.

According to HRF, the most objectionable parts of Sensenbrenner's proposal would allow a refugee to be denied asylum if she is unable to produce documents that confirm her case; require a refugee to prove her persecutor's ”central” reasons for harming her; and give immigration officers and judges broad leeway to deny asylum based on perceived demeanor and statements, ignoring the fact that survivors of rape or similar abuses may appear lacking in emotion.

”In promoting his asylum changes, Chairman Sensenbrenner has repeatedly characterised his provisions as necessary to prevent terrorists from 'gaming' the system,” HRF said.

”Current law, however, already bars those who present a security risk from getting asylum -- asylum seekers undergo rigorous security and background checks from the time they apply until they are granted. In fact they continue to undergo these clearances even after being granted asylum and until they receive their green card.”

Most of the Sensenbrenner immigration provisions were originally included in the House version of the Intelligence Reorganisation Act at the end of 2004, but were removed because of strong opposition from the Senate and the White House. The intelligence measure enacted into law many of the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission.

”Sensenbrenner continues the congressional tradition of targeting genuine asylum-seekers to score rhetorical points against terrorists,” Mark Dow, author of ”American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons”, told IPS.

”He is simply unconcerned with the damage that his political maneuvering may do to human beings and their families.” (END/2005)


National: Americans For Legal Immigration PAC Issues Statement On Illegal Immigration

Posted by Senior Editor on 2005/2/3 18:14:32

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC issues opinion statement on HR 418 ‘Real ID Act of 2005’

A majority of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC support the intent of HR 418. The members feel this legislation is necessary from Federal lawmakers due to the fact several states have failed to improve their license security after 9/11. In some states, such as North Carolina, lawmakers actually eased license security after the attacks. Improved license security is necessary to prevent both terrorists and illegal aliens from obtaining the privilege of possessing valid driver licenses.

Many of ALIPAC’s members took issue with one provision of the bill involving biometric technology usage or Facial Recognition Technology (FRT). Currently, the ‘Real ID Act of 2005’ calls for digital photos on licenses and “(3) Subject each person applying for a driver's license or identification card to mandatory facial image capture” Americans for Legal Immigration PAC respectfully encourages law makers to remove any biometric technologies or FRT provisions from this bill.

“The majority of the American public is willing to go to the mat to fight illegal immigration and terrorists.” says William Gheen, President of ALIPAC. “At the same time they have made it abundantly clear they do not want to be subjected to Big Brother technologies. The computerized facial scanning listed in this bill is about the same as requiring license holders to enroll in a national fingerprint database. At least with fingerprints you know when you are being scanned.”

Several candidates that ALIPAC endorsed in 2004 have already signed HR 418 (Virginia Foxx, Walter Jones, Sue Myrick, & Joe Wilson). Congressman David Dreier has also signed the bill. ALIPAC endorsed Dreier’s opponent in the 2004 election cycle.

“We are glad to see Congressman Dreier play a stronger roll in immigration reform and hope that his efforts continue,” Gheen says. “We will monitor the situation closely. Since there is a split in our membership on this bill due to the biometric FRT issue we will encourage our members contact law makers to express their individual feelings on HR 418.”

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