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5/8: Sad News: "REAL ID" Approved

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Sad News: REAL ID Approved May 8, 2005 Updates from National Immigrant Solidarity Network URL: _http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org_
    Message 1 of 1 , May 9, 2005
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      Sad News: "REAL ID" Approved
      May 8, 2005
       
      Updates from National Immigrant Solidarity Network
       
       
      1) "REAL ID" APPROVED
      From: CHRI
       
      Immigration News Briefs (INB), a weekly English-language summary of US immigration news, is forwarded out to the email list of the Coalition
      for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI).

      On May 5, the House of Representatives voted 368-58 to approve
      the final version of an emergency supplemental appropriations
      bill, which includes a series of anti-immigrant measures
      originally introduced as the REAL ID Act [see INB 2/12/05,
      4/3/05, 4/24/05]. The appropriations bill assigns about $76
      billion for military operations, $656 million for tsunami relief,
      $4.2 billion for foreign aid and $635 million for the Department
      of Homeland Security (DHS) bureaus of Immigration and Customs
      Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). About
      $455 million goes for ICE to hire 50 criminal investigators and
      168 immigration enforcement agents and deportation officers, and
      to obtain 1,950 additional detention beds. About $177 million
      goes to CBP to allow that agency to hire, train, equip and
      support 500 Border Patrol agents.

      Although the Senate voted 99-0 on Apr. 21 for a version of the
      appropriations bill which excluded REAL ID, Senate leaders agreed
      in negotiations on May 3 to accept most of the REAL ID Act
      provisions in the final bill, supposedly in exchange for support
      of future immigration reform measures. The Senate is expected to
      approve the final version of the appropriations bill when it
      resumes sessions during the week of May 9.

      The final bill requires applicants for state driver's licenses to
      show proof of citizenship or legal residency, document a home
      address and provide a photo ID. State motor vehicle departments
      would have to verify the documents using federal databases.
      States would have three years to comply with these requirements.
      If a state didn't comply, its licenses couldn't be used for
      federal identification purposes, such as boarding planes or
      entering federal buildings. [Associated Press 5/6/05; Los Angeles
      Times 5/6/05; Investor's Business Daily 5/6/05; Miami Herald
      5/6/05; GovExec.com 5/5/05]

      Some of the bill's controversial asylum provisions were modified
      in the final version. As passed, the Real ID Act will require
      applicants for asylum to prove that their race, religion,
      national origin, political opinion or membership in a particular
      social group constituted "at least one central reason" for their
      persecution. Current law requires applicants show that their
      persecution was based "at least in part" on one of these factors;
      the original version of REAL ID would have required applicants to
      prove that one of these factors was "a central reason" for their
      persecution.

      Taken out of the final version of the bill were provisions
      eliminating stays of removal (which would have allowed asylum
      seekers to be deported while their cases are on appeal to federal
      court), giving bail bondspeople unprecedented power to detain
      immigrants in removal proceedings, and restricting judicial
      review of credibility determinations by immigration authorities.
      In a positive development, the Real ID Act removes the annual
      cap--presently 10,000--on the number of asylees who can adjust
      their status to permanent residency. [Immigration Equality
      5/5/05; Latin America Working Group 5/6/05; ILW.com 5/6/05;
      Congressional Quarterly 5/4/05]

      REAL ID gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to
      waive any legal regulation that would impede the construction of
      border barriers, fences, or roads. It also limits legal
      challenges to such projects to those brought on constitutional
      grounds. The original version of REAL ID would have required the
      Secretary of Homeland Security to waive all laws that would
      impede barrier construction, and would have barred all court
      challenges. [LAWG 5/6/05]

      The final bill includes an amendment from Sen. Barbara Mikulski
      (D-MD)--approved in the Senate's version of the bill--for a two-
      year waiver of the 66,000 annual cap on H-2B visas for returning
      low-skill seasonal workers. Maryland's seafood processing
      industry, which relies on foreign workers, lobbied heavily for
      that amendment. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) inserted
      a line in the final bill giving 10,500 visas to Australian guest
      workers in high-skill jobs. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
      added a provision to provide up to 50,000 visas for foreign
      nurses and physical therapists and their family members, by
      reassigning visas which were left unused between 2001 and 2004--
      though apparently drafting errors have left that provision in
      doubt. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) added a measure eliminating an
      annual cap of 1,000 on asylum grants for people (primarily from
      China) who claim persecution based on forced population control
      policies. [Investor's Business Daily 5/6/05; AP 5/4/05]

      On May 7 hundreds of immigrants and supporters protested the
      passage of REAL ID in Rockville, Maryland. Maryland is one of 10
      states that don't require driver's license applicants to prove
      they are in the US legally. [AP 5/7/05]

      Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) plan to
      unveil a bipartisan immigration reform plan during the week of
      May 9. The plan is likely to include provisions for allowing some
      undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent residency, while
      also including measures tightening immigration and border
      enforcement and penalizing employers for hiring undocumented
      workers. [Arizona Republic (Phoenix) 5/6/05]

      "REAL ID" APPROVED
      On May 5, the House of Representatives voted 368-58 to approve
      the final version of an emergency supplemental appropriations
      bill, which includes a series of anti-immigrant measures
      originally introduced as the REAL ID Act [see INB 2/12/05,
      4/3/05, 4/24/05]. The appropriations bill assigns about $76
      billion for military operations, $656 million for tsunami relief,
      $4.2 billion for foreign aid and $635 million for the Department
      of Homeland Security (DHS) bureaus of Immigration and Customs
      Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). About
      $455 million goes for ICE to hire 50 criminal investigators and
      168 immigration enforcement agents and deportation officers, and
      to obtain 1,950 additional detention beds. About $177 million
      goes to CBP to allow that agency to hire, train, equip and
      support 500 Border Patrol agents.

      Although the Senate voted 99-0 on Apr. 21 for a version of the
      appropriations bill which excluded REAL ID, Senate leaders agreed
      in negotiations on May 3 to accept most of the REAL ID Act
      provisions in the final bill, supposedly in exchange for support
      of future immigration reform measures. The Senate is expected to
      approve the final version of the appropriations bill when it
      resumes sessions during the week of May 9.

      The final bill requires applicants for state driver's licenses to
      show proof of citizenship or legal residency, document a home
      address and provide a photo ID. State motor vehicle departments
      would have to verify the documents using federal databases.
      States would have three years to comply with these requirements.
      If a state didn't comply, its licenses couldn't be used for
      federal identification purposes, such as boarding planes or
      entering federal buildings. [Associated Press 5/6/05; Los Angeles
      Times 5/6/05; Investor's Business Daily 5/6/05; Miami Herald
      5/6/05; GovExec.com 5/5/05]

      Some of the bill's controversial asylum provisions were modified
      in the final version. As passed, the Real ID Act will require
      applicants for asylum to prove that their race, religion,
      national origin, political opinion or membership in a particular
      social group constituted "at least one central reason" for their
      persecution. Current law requires applicants show that their
      persecution was based "at least in part" on one of these factors;
      the original version of REAL ID would have required applicants to
      prove that one of these factors was "a central reason" for their
      persecution.

      Taken out of the final version of the bill were provisions
      eliminating stays of removal (which would have allowed asylum
      seekers to be deported while their cases are on appeal to federal
      court), giving bail bondspeople unprecedented power to detain
      immigrants in removal proceedings, and restricting judicial
      review of credibility determinations by immigration authorities.
      In a positive development, the Real ID Act removes the annual
      cap--presently 10,000--on the number of asylees who can adjust
      their status to permanent residency. [Immigration Equality
      5/5/05; Latin America Working Group 5/6/05; ILW.com 5/6/05;
      Congressional Quarterly 5/4/05]

      REAL ID gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to
      waive any legal regulation that would impede the construction of
      border barriers, fences, or roads. It also limits legal
      challenges to such projects to those brought on constitutional
      grounds. The original version of REAL ID would have required the
      Secretary of Homeland Security to waive all laws that would
      impede barrier construction, and would have barred all court
      challenges. [LAWG 5/6/05]

      The final bill includes an amendment from Sen. Barbara Mikulski
      (D-MD)--approved in the Senate's version of the bill--for a two-
      year waiver of the 66,000 annual cap on H-2B visas for returning
      low-skill seasonal workers. Maryland's seafood processing
      industry, which relies on foreign workers, lobbied heavily for
      that amendment. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) inserted
      a line in the final bill giving 10,500 visas to Australian guest
      workers in high-skill jobs. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
      added a provision to provide up to 50,000 visas for foreign
      nurses and physical therapists and their family members, by
      reassigning visas which were left unused between 2001 and 2004--
      though apparently drafting errors have left that provision in
      doubt. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) added a measure eliminating an
      annual cap of 1,000 on asylum grants for people (primarily from
      China) who claim persecution based on forced population control
      policies. [Investor's Business Daily 5/6/05; AP 5/4/05]

      On May 7 hundreds of immigrants and supporters protested the
      passage of REAL ID in Rockville, Maryland. Maryland is one of 10
      states that don't require driver's license applicants to prove
      they are in the US legally. [AP 5/7/05]

      Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) plan to
      unveil a bipartisan immigration reform plan during the week of
      May 9. The plan is likely to include provisions for allowing some
      undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent residency, while
      also including measures tightening immigration and border
      enforcement and penalizing employers for hiring undocumented
      workers. [Arizona Republic (Phoenix) 5/6/05]

       
      2) Analysis: REAL ID outcome
       
      Sean Mariano Garcia
      Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group
      e-mail: sgarcia@...
      URL: www.lawg.org
       

      Dear Border Activists -

      I'm writing with some unhappy news regarding the REAL ID Act.  This Wednesday, we got final language from the House and Senate negotiators working on the Iraqi War Funding bill regarding their decisions on REAL ID.  By and large, they adopted REAL ID in its entirety.  While this is a blow to everyone in favor of improving the lives of immigrants in the US, and for border communities in particular, we did get some small concessions that improve the final version - but only slightly.  The House of Represenatives voted to accept this language last night, and the Senate is expected to follow suit at the beginning of next week.  The President has indicated he will sign the bill into law. 

      I do want to thank everyone who made phone calls and spoke with their congressional offices to voice opposition to this bill.  Without such outcries, it is unlikely that we would have even gotten the concessions that appeared in the final version of the bill.  And though this is a disheartening result, this fight over REAL ID has just served as Act I in the larger debate over immigration reform - we may have lost the battle, but we can still win the war!  As I write this, we are preparing to see the release of the first serious immigration reform bill presented in the Senate by Senators McCain (R-AZ), and Kennedy (D-MA).  We are expecting introduction of this bill in the next two weeks.  While we hope there will be alot to like about this bill, we are not expecting it to be perfect, so there will be work to be done to make sure that it continues to evolve in a favorable way. 

      One of the most important things that communities and individuals can do at this point in time is to express their outrage that the Congress steamrolled REAL ID through to final passage.  I'm going to quote a colleague at the American Friends Service Committee about appropriate reactions:

      ·  Create noise against the REAL ID provisions that pass. Those Congressional members who supported REAL ID should know that their positions were not acceptable. While DC people are usually the ones who want to highlight the positive and stay away from criticizing members of Congress, one DC person said today that, with REAL ID, it is time for communities to voice their discontent. While our communities have felt this for some time, it shows how bad the climate is that a DC person feels this way also.
      ·  For now, consider neither supporting nor opposing the McCain-Kennedy bill. (This will be very contentious as some groups will support and some groups won’t.) Instead, use the introduction of the bill as an opportunity for immigrant communities to present their vision of immigration reform. Highlight specific portions of the bill that communities agree with and specific portions of the bill that communities oppose, rather than simply saying “we support” or “we oppose” the entire bill.
      ·  Use the bill as yet another opportunity for community forums. Consider the introduction of the bill as part of a process to continue to raise community awareness and to  create a better bill (through future amendments, etc.).

      We will continue to provide you with more information about the McCain-Kennedy bill in the future.  In the meantime, I'm going to provide you with a quick overview of what passed in the REAL ID bill, and where we won our small victories.


      Fencing Provisions:  REAL ID now provides the Secretary of Homeland Security with the Authority to waive any legal regulation that would impede the construction of border barriers, fences, or roads.  This construction would only be contestable in the courts on constitutional grounds. 

      While this is pretty regressive, we did win a few small victories here.  First, the original bill that passed the House required the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive all laws that would impede construction.  Making this a discretionary waiver basically transfers the already existing discretionary waiver authority that the President has always had to the Secretary of Homeland Security.  The original version also barred all court challenges to construction.  While the construction cannot be challenged because it breaks laws (regardless of whether they are laws that were waived or not), it does allow for challenges to constitutional rights.  This does provide some avenues for us, but less than we would like. 

      Asylum Provisions:  There are new, severe restrictions on people seeking asylum in the US.  They will be required to show a greater degree of evidence, and the bill includes new, overly-broad reasons for denial of asylum in an attempt to prevent terrorists from seeking political asylum.  The bill does increase the caps on the number of people who can seek asylum, which is a positive step forward.  But the new regulations will make it more difficult for them to qualify.

      Again, there were a few small victories for asylum seekers.  First, the requirement that the requirement that a person seeking asylum in one of the currently established 5 protected categories (race, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, or membership in a particular social group) be the "central motive" of their request has been softened to be "at least one central motive."  The requirement that asylees provide documentation of their persecution has been softened to “unless the applicant does not have the evidence and cannot reasonably obtain the evidence.” Finally, the original version of the bill would have allowed for an asylum seeker to be deported back to their home country while their case was still in appeals.  The final version strikes that provision, and is a significant victory for asylees.

      Drivers License Provisions:  Unfortunately, there were no significant modifications to the new drivers license provisions in REAL ID.  These provisions will have a significant impact on US citizens as well as on immigrants.  They provide for new federal standards for the issuance of drivers licenses. They will require anyone going to get or renew a driver's license to provide proof of citizenship or legal immigration status.  In some cases, this will require an applicant to show up to four pieces of ID.  For foreign nationals, only a passport will be accepted as proof of identiy and date of birth.  There are new criteria for the design of driver's licenses that are set to federal standards.  In the case that a state does not meet all these requirements, it must state that on the ID, making it invalid for use as identification for any federal purpose, including boarding an airplane.  These provisions will also create a nationally centered database that contains all the information individuals submit to receive a driver's license.

      There are a few other minor sections of REAL ID, but few that have such broad scope.  The only one worth mentioning to border activists is that there is a provision requiring the Border Patrol to conduct a study of how to better use technology to secure the border.  It requires the Border Patrol to conduct the study and then submit proposals for how to better use technology within a year of the bill passing - not necessarily a bad provision in an of itself, but in the hands of the Border Patrol, it could become an invitation to further militarize the border.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news as the weekend kicks off, but I encourage all of you to think how you can convert your anger and frustration into community activism that will create positive change as we look forward to the next fight on McCain-Kennedy.

      Best regards - Sean

      =======================================================================
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