The “REAL ID” ACT HR 418

February 1st, 2005

THE “REAL ID” ACT (H.R. 418)
Peaceful Tomorrows wrote a letter to members of Congress calling for rejection of the “REAL ID” act proposed by James Sensenbrenner. A vote on the bill is expected during the week of February 7th, 2005. Read the letter below, and learn more about H.R. 418 at the links that follow.

Dear Member of Congress,

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows supports the dignity of all human beings. Indeed, it was the dehumanization of our loved ones that forever changed our lives on 9-11-01. We want justice for the murder of our family members, and effective policies that address the root of terrorism and prevent terrorist activity.

Today, we are deeply troubled that 9/11 and the “war on terror” are being used as a means to introduce legislation which stereotypes, dehumanizes, and unfairly targets immigrants. We urge you to oppose Representative Sensenbrenner’s REAL ID Act (H.R. 418). His bill includes, among other provisions, the asylum, driver’s license, and inadmissibility/removability provisions that were wisely stricken from the final Conference Report of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. These controversial measures equate immigrants with terrorists. They will not make America safer, because 9-11 was largely a failure of intelligence, not immigration law.

Representative Sensenbrenner has indicated that Republican leaders have committed to include these measures in the first must-pass legislative vehicle. We urge you to voice your concern about this procedure and vote against these controversial provisions. Specifically, we urge you to oppose the following ill-conceived measures contained in the REAL ID Act that:

Heighten Asylum Eligibility and Proof Standards: Some asylum seekers are actually fleeing from the very countries the United States government has labeled as supportive of terrorist activity. Asylum applicants already undergo more extensive security checks than any other foreign nationals who come to this country. Terrorists and others who pose a danger to our security are already ineligible for asylum.

Link Driver’s License Eligibility to Immigration Status: The intelligence reform bill that Congress passed last year already addresses the concerns raised by the 9/11 Commission regarding driver’s licenses and identity documents. However, Mr. Sensenbrenner’s proposal to set federal eligibility requirements for driver’s licenses, including restrictions on immigrants’ access to licenses, would undermine, not enhance, national security by pushing people deeper into the shadows. Such a result would severely undermine the law enforcement utility of Department of Motor Vehicles databases by limiting, rather than expanding, government data about individuals in this country.

Expand Grounds of Inadmissibility and Removability: The proposal to permit deportation of non-citizens who are members of or support any political organization that has used violence, even if the organization has not been designated as a “foreign terrorist organization,” is misguided. This proposal to impose guilt by association leaves out what we believe to be a basic component of wrong-doing: intent. With its’ retroactive application, it could be used to deport long-term, lawful residents, even if the association rendering them deportable occurred decades earlier and was legal at the time.

We ask that people be judged by their behavior, not by their immigration status, who they associate with, or their ability to prove a central motive of a persecutor when seeking asylum. It is our hope that America’s principles and Constitutional protections will continue to apply to those who have come to our country fleeing persecution and torture; that we can come together with compassion for our fellow human beings, those less fortunate than ourselves, seeking a better life for their families and the privileges of citizenship we enjoy as an accident of birth. There is no
need for H.R. 418.

Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON H.R.418

Fact sheet compiled by the 9-11 Commissioners

Filed in: Immigration & Civil Liberties, Rule of Law: Guantanamo and Civil Liberties

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