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Anti-Immigrant REAL ID Act Passes in the House

By March 30, 2006 No Comments

Downloadable:  English press statement

PRESS RELEASE

May 6, 2005                        Contacts: EunSook Lee (NAKASEC) 323-937-3703
For Immediate Release                                Dae Joong Yoon (KRC) 323-937-3718
                                                                 Kent Chaegu Lee (KRCC) 773-506-9158
                                                                 Yu Soung Mun (YKASEC) 718-460-5600

Anti-Immigrant REAL ID Act Passes in the House

[Los Angeles, CA] On May 5, 2005, the House of Representatives passed the conference committee version of the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill with the REAL ID Act included by a majority vote of 368 to 58.

The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates, the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (Chicago), the Korean Resource Center (Los Angeles), and YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community (New York) are deeply disappointed that while there were some changes to the original House version, the final reconciled bill still contained most of the harsh anti-immigrant provisions. Furthermore, we are concerned about the process leading to the bill’s passage. Its attachment to an appropriations bill is an underhanded tactic by the House to “fast-track” the bill through Congress without any genuine or meaningful debate. Sweeping changes to the immigration system can only be made through careful consideration and in a comprehensive manner. Just as important, members of Congress have acted in spite of the groundswell of broad and diverse community opposition to the bill that has been mounting since it was first introduced.

Specifically, the final bill contains the following key provisions:
Driver’s Licenses
1. All drivers’ license applicants will still undergo unnecessarily burdensome proof of identity and citizenship standards. The final bill also provides that no foreign documents, except for an official passport, will be accepted as proof of identification or date of birth.  Many lawfully present immigrants do not have a passport.  

2. Temporary drivers’ licenses will be issued to certain legal non-citizens, which will only be valid for the length of their visa. Unfortunately, visas and immigration statuses can be verified by different documents and do not have simple expiration dates. And, many legal non-citizens may still be lawfully present even if their immigration documents have expired. The bill also excludes many other legal non-citizens from receiving licenses.

3. If states do not comply with the minimum standards and issue driver’s licenses or identification cards to individuals who cannot verify their immigration status, the driver’s license or identification cards cannot be used for federal purposes such as boarding aircrafts or entering federal building. These driver’s licenses or identification cards will also have a unique color or design to alert federal agencies and other law enforcement personnel that it may not be accepted for any such federal purpose.

Asylum Seekers
The final version will still make it more difficult for those fleeing persecution from attaining asylum. Modifications include the limiting of the judge’s discretion to reject an asylum claim based solely on the applicant’s credibility or demeanor and the restoration of appeal opportunities or asylum seekers.

Fences Along the US-Mexico Border
REAL ID allowed DHS to bypass any state and federal laws to build a fence along the US-Mexico border.  The final version still allows DHS to bypass state and federal laws to build a fence along the US-Mexico border, but will allow for judicial review in cases of constitutional claims such as the taking of private property.

Bounty Hunters
Provisions in the original House version granting bounty hunters to pursue, arrest and detain immigrants who have not yet completed removal proceedings have been removed.  

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