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Anti-Immigrant REAL ID Act Signed Into Law

By March 30, 2006No Comments

Downloadable:  English press statement


May 11, 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 Signed Into Law

[Los Angeles, CA]  On May 11, 2005, President George Bush signed the REAL ID Act as attached to the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.  The bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 368-to-58 on May 5, 2005 and unanimously in the Senate on May 10, 2005.  The final bill includes several anti-immigrant provisions.  In particular, changes to the drivers’ license process will make it harder for citizens to obtain a license and will create an unfair system that denies licenses to certain immigrants.  Other provisions include stricter requirements to obtain asylum and the building of a fence along the US-Mexico border.  

Chaegu Lee, executive director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (Chicago), stated, “While we support assistance to the Tsunami-affected countries and understand the need for funds to American troops abroad, the REAL ID Act provisions itself have nothing to do with either issue and will have a detrimental impact on immigrant and refugee communities. Restrictions to drivers’ licenses will only hurt communities and harm public safety.  It will increase the number of falsified documents, driving without insurance, and will make DMV employees essentially immigration enforcement agencies.”

“The process with which the REAL ID Act was considered is questionable,” executive director EunSook Lee of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium said, “The REAL ID provisions were attached to a must-pass appropriations bill without the proper hearings or any significant debate. During the Conference Committee, minority conferees were never even given the opportunity to vote on the immigration provisions.”

“Furthermore,” Ms. Lee continued, “the White House and members of Congress have acted in spite of the community’s broad and diverse opposition to the bill.  The Korean American community in particular has demonstrated its opposition to the REAL ID Act.  Since March, Korean American community members in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles generated hundreds of calls to their local Senators.  Calls were also made to the White House. Additionally, in the past week, over 1,500 petitions were faxed to the White House in opposition to the REAL ID Act provisions. Local affiliates also held coordinated media events to educate the Korean American community on the issue.”

Yu Soung Mun, executive director of YKASEC – Empowering the Korean American Community (New York) added, “The REAL ID Act is another example of the growing anti-immigrant trends in the U.S. Immigrants should not be equated with terrorists. They have the right to go to school and to work and to make a life for themselves and their families. They are contributors to the social, economic, and political fabric of the U.S. and should be afforded the same rights and protections as everyone else.”  Mr. Mun continued, “We are concerned with national security, but the REAL ID Act provisions are not about security. Congress has already passed reforms based on the 9/11 Commission’s findings, which the REAL ID Act will replace. It is simply scapegoating of immigrants rather than effectively tackling the real challenges that face our nation today.”

“President Bush has stated the need for immigration reform,” concluded Dae Yoon, executive director of the Korean Resource Center (Los Angeles), “The REAL ID Act provisions will bring sweeping changes but it is only a piecemeal attempt at fixing a broken system. We need comprehensive immigration reform that will take into consideration the immigration system as a whole.”  

NAKASEC and its affiliates expect to continue to be a part of the larger debate and discussion around the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill as it is introduced into the House and the Senate. The hope is that the REAL ID Act will be reconsidered within this broader discussion on the immigration system, as it should have been from its very introduction.