House Judiciary Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and 115 others in the House of Representatives are pushing hard for an immigration and
border security bill – the REAL ID Act – that would make it more difficult for
people persecuted for their religious beliefs to receive asylum
in the United States. Under the legislation, many refugees tortured, raped and
brutalized on the basis of their race, national origin or political opinions would also be turned away. Sensenbrenner claims the law is necessary
"to prevent another 9/11-type attack"
by preventing would-be terrorists from
entering the US under the cover of the existing asylum laws.
Multiple faith-based groups
are opposing this bill. A senior member of the Hebrew
Immigrant Aid Society worries that the changes "would inflict serious hardship on victims of persecution, torture and trauma who rightly look to the
U.S. as a beacon of hope." Richard Parkins, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, stated that "[w]e believe public policy based on fear,
false premise or misleading information is something we cannot accept. The Episcopal Church has long spoken out against further reduction of asylum
opportunity." Other religious groups opposing the asylum changes are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
Service and World Relief, a program of the National Association of Evangelicals. They are joined by Human Rights First and Amnesty International. An
statement signed by the religious groups says, "We believe that the religious traditions which we embrace calls us to oppose a narrowing of the door
to asylum by some of the world's most at risk persons. We are committed to resisting a fear driven agenda which violates our faith based
These asylum changes are embedded in a bill that is moving quickly through the House as part of a spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bill would also dictate to the states drivers' license eligibility requirements. Most significantly, it would
invalidate all driver's licenses in 10 states
that grant licenses to illegal
immigrants. It would also require state driver's license data to be shared with Canada
Agreement," resulting, in effect, a "tri-national ID card."
The bill also contains a provision that authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to
"waive any and all laws
in the course of securing the borders from illegal
immigration." The bill also contains "exemption from judicial review that not only shields the waiver decisions from court scrutiny but also
strips courts of any power to order remedies for anyone harmed by the consequences of such decisions
." The provision "would empower the DHS
Secretary to give no-bid contracts for border construction to private companies and then shield those contractors from all employment
discrimination and workplace safety laws
." Another big concern: the provision gives DHS free reign to waive environmental laws across thousands
of acres of federal lands.
Folks, this is one scary puppy. If enacted, this bill will turn your driver's license into a North American ID card, making your personal data
available to the govts of all 50 states as well as 2 foreign countries, and sets the stage for the inclusion of fingerprints, retinal scans, RFID
technology, or whatever else DHS feels is necessary, as long as it's for "national security" and the states are "consulted." (States' consent is