Real ID. Legal bounty hunting on immigrants and much more.

From reader Danny,

Interesting FAQ about the "Real ID Act", on how it will probably be approved by Congress by just bundling it with a military spending bill and how this ID will be required for almost everything, from boarding a plane to probably going to the bathroom… and all your moves are recorded for the government to see…  didn’t Nazi Germany start out like this?

2005 is actually 1984…

This noxious turd of a bill, Real ID, is about to become Federal law. There has been little debate on it, and the Dems, with just a few exceptions, haven’t opposed it.

How noxious is this bill?

Juan Jose Gutierrez of Latino Movement USA spoke at the ANSWER LA Community meeting on Saturday about Real ID detailing some of its Orwellian aspects.

Drivers licenses will require 4 IDs and will be much harder to get. You must be a citizen to get a drivers license. States may issue special marked licenses for non-citizens, but they can not be used to board planes or for Federal ID purposes.

Political asylum to anyone, for any reason, for all practical purposes, will be nonexistent.

Bounty hunters will be allowed to track down immigrants.  When Juan Jose said this, even though I know him, I thought, no, this can’t be true. Well it is. Private bounty hunters will be allowed to track anyone they think might be here illegally *and* will be given access to law enforcement files.

From the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh

The ‘Real ID Act’ is all wrong

In the name of security, Congress is considering an assault on immigration

Real ID will:

Harm refugees: The heightened eligibility standards and stricter requirements for evidence in the Real ID Act would permit the denial of asylum to a Christian fleeing persecution, a battered immigrant woman or a Soviet Jew who was beaten and robbed by police, if each cannot prove that persecution was the "central" motive of their attackers, and if none can provide documentary proof that persecution was the motive.

Hurt long-time permanent residents: The Real ID Act would make noncitizens, including long-time permanent residents, deportable for past lawful speech or associations. This strips from immigrants First Amendment rights they are entitled to and that are cherished by us all. It would, for example, permit the deportation of a legal permanent resident who innocently makes an online contribution to a tsunami relief fund that is a subsidiary of an organization in a Tamil Tiger-controlled region of Sri Lanka.

Encourage "bounty hunters": Under Real ID, private bounty hunters would be given access to confidential law enforcement files on noncitizens.

The Real ID Act would give broad powers to untrained and bounty-driven civilians to stalk and arrest immigrants, even when they meet the terms of their bonds, solely on the bounty hunter’s opinion that they might flee.

Permit more secret hearings and trials and cut back judicial review of deportation orders.

Put untested drivers behind the wheel: The Real ID Act would make it far harder for an alien, legal or not, to get a driver’s license. By setting federal eligibility requirements for driver’s licenses, including restrictions on immigrants’ access to licenses, the Real ID Act would undermine, not enhance, national security by pushing people deeper into the shadows.

Authorize disregard of our laws in order to build a fence along our border: The Real ID Act would authorize the secretary of Homeland Security to waive all federal, state and local laws to expedite construction of security fences and barriers at our borders.

None of the provisions in this bill has been subject to hearings or meaningful debate. And none of these measures would have prevented or impeded the 9/11 attacks. Tragically, these provisions also would do nothing to make us safer. In fact, they would undermine our security by diverting resources from effective initiatives and alienate immigrant populations here and our allies abroad.

Repeat, this bill is about to pass with the overwhelming support of both parties and no debate.

From the NY Daily News

Real ID Act an attack on immigrants 
Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the infamous Real ID Act. The Senate is expected to do the same this week.

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor – 368 to 58 – which is not surprising because Republicans attached the blatantly anti-immigrant measure to a massive $82 billion emergency spending bill, with $75.9 billion earmarked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), who represents one of the most diverse districts in the country, said that it was "an abuse of power" by the House Republican leaders to have attached the anti-immigrant provisions – the brainchild of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) – to a must-pass bill.

It also was an assault on democracy, a way of ramming the bill down the throats of Americans without any discussion.

"This is a downright mean bill," Crowley said, "which would not only make it nearly impossible for international victims of abuse and torture to seek political asylum, but would also make our streets and cities more dangerous."

The Real ID, no matter what its proponents say, is nothing more than an unwarranted attack on immigration posing as an anti-terrorist measure.

This bill "tries to paint immigrants as potential terrorists and slam the door on them," said Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in a very clear assessment of the legislation’s real intention.

"In the name of national security," said Arti Shahani of Families for Freedom, a defense network for immigrants facing deportation, "Real ID would strip immigrants of driver’s licenses; end the constitutional right to habeas corpus for the first time since the Civil War; prevent people fleeing persecution from gaining asylum here and almost certainly increase deaths at the border."

"This legislation," Crowley told the House on Thursday, "which the 9/11 Commission has called unwarranted, was added by the right-wing extremists in the Republican conference whose joy in bashing immigrants is exceeded only by their zest for tax cuts for the wealthy." An outrage.

Governor again lauds Minuteman Project

U.S. lacks will to solve immigration problem, he says
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reiterated his support for the Minuteman Project Sunday on Fox News, saying it is natural for citizens to rise up, if the federal government fails to patrol the border.

Well, when your polls ratings are sinking alarmingly, what better route for a lunkhead governor to take than  to mobilize his hard right racist core by attacking the defenseless. It’s what former Governor Pete Wilson did when he was behind in a race with Kathleen Brown – and he won. Now some in California want to get another Prop 187-like initiative on the ballot, this time to create a California border patrol of 1,000-2,000 police. It’s all so cynical. Businesses who hire such immigrants are rarely prosecuted and California agriculture would stop if not for immigrant labor – but they’re defenseless, so let’s attack them to boost our political ratings. 

"First they came for the immigrants and I did nothing because I was not an immigrant …"

Update: Respected security expert Bruce Schneier also thinks Real ID is a terrible idea

REAL ID doesn’t go into effect until three years after it becomes law, but I expect things to be much worse by then. One of my fears is that this new uniform driver’s license will bring a new level of "show me your papers" checks by the government. Already you can’t fly without an ID, even though no one has ever explained how that ID check makes airplane terrorism any harder. I have previously written about Secure Flight, another lousy security system that tries to match airline passengers against terrorist watch lists.

I’ve already heard rumblings about requiring states to check identities against "government databases" before issuing driver’s licenses. I’m sure Secure Flight will be used for cruise ships, trains, and possibly even subways. Combine REAL ID with Secure Flight and you have an unprecedented system for broad surveillance of the population.

Is there anyone who would feel safer under this kind of police state?

Near as I can tell, this whole thing is being pushed by Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner primarily as an anti-immigration measure. The huge insecurities this will cause to everyone else in the United States seem to be collateral damage.