WASHINGTON -- February 10 -- The House of Representatives has begun debate on the "REAL ID Act of 2005" (HR 418) and may vote as early as Thursday. The following people are available for interviews:
JUDITH GOLUB, firstname.lastname@example.org, via Julia Hendrix, email@example.com, www.aila.org
Available for a limited number of interviews, Golub is senior director of advocacy and public affairs for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She said today: "This bill includes, among other provisions, the asylum, driver's license, and inadmissibility-removal provisions that were wisely stricken from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 before Congress passed it and it was enacted into law. These controversial measures will not make America safer, but they will make our highways more dangerous [by increasing the number of uninsured, unlicensed drivers] and our country less secure, prevent people fleeing from persecution from obtaining asylum, and impose guilt by association."
NANCY TALANIAN, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.bordc.org
Talanian is director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. She said today: "Sending refugees who have fled torture, rape, and other brutal human rights abusers back to their tormenters and deporting long-term residents for charity contributions they made long ago will not make Americans safer from terrorism. Yet sections of H.R. 418 would do just that."
Talanian added: "One section enables a judge to deny a refugee asylum if she is unable to track down specific documents that corroborate her claims -- even if the U.S. State Department confirms that the country from which the refugee has fled never provides the documents -- and bars other judges from reversing their determinations because the corroborating evidence is not available."
TALAT HAMDANI, email@example.com, www.peacefultomorrows.org, http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3068112/site/newsweek
Hamdani is a Pakistani-American living in Queens, New York. Her son, Salman, was a NYC police cadet who disappeared on 9/11 and was wrongfully accused of participating in the attacks. When his body was identified at the WTC months later, it was believed that he had gone to the scene to provide help. Hamdani has since been active in immigrant issues arising from the 9/11 attacks. She said today: "The bill's sponsors contend that this measure is necessary to enhance our nation's security. Rather, it will make our highways more dangerous, undermine our security, and impose guilt by association. Further, it will prevent some people fleeing persecution from obtaining refuge."
MARJORIE COHN, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.truthout.org/docs_2005/020905X.shtml
A professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, Cohn wrote the new piece "Lady Liberty Under Attack" about the proposed legislation. She said today: "Under the REAL ID Act, a person would be deportable unless she could show 'by clear and convincing evidence' that she did not know the group she was supporting was a terrorist organization under the law's extremely opportunistic definition of that term. Since it is almost impossible to prove lack of knowledge, this standard would make it nearly impossible for an innocent immigrant to defend herself against deportation. This would, for example, allow the deportation of an immigrant who donated money for tsunami disaster relief in the Aceh province of Indonesia, not knowing the organization that received funds had a subgroup the Department of Homeland Security considered terrorist."
Cohn added: "One of the most heinous parts of this bill is section 102, which would empower the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend any and all laws in order to ensure the 'expeditious' construction of a set of barriers and roads to keep illegal immigrants out. Then, it prohibits any judicial review of the Secretary's decision to suspend any law. What laws could the Secretary of Homeland Security suspend? Environmental and labor laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, and the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws and the right to organize and bargain collectively."