The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Claire O'Brien, (202) 675-2312;

Proposed Immigration Bill Raises Civil Liberties Concerns, Says ACLU

Draft Bill Summary Proposes National ID System for All Americans


American Civil Liberties Union has serious reservations about a draft
version of a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill summary posted
on Politico late Wednesday. Although the ACLU has not seen the full
legislative language of the bill, the published draft raises serious
civil liberties concerns, including a troubling provision which would
create a biometric national ID card. Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin,
Chuck Schumer, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein and Bob Menendez will
hold a press conference this evening to unveil their outline of the

If the
biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law,
every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted and a new federal
bureaucracy - one that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars -
would have to be created to issue cards. The ACLU strongly opposes the
inclusion of a biometric national ID in this or any comprehensive
immigration reform bill and urges senators to reject such an ID card.

a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it
will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in
America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And
all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy - one that combines
the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA," said Christopher Calabrese,
ACLU Legislative Counsel. "America's broken immigration system needs
real, workable reform, but it cannot come at the expense of privacy and
individual freedoms."

draft bill also provides for continuation of the much-criticized
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program. Earlier this
month the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General
(OIG) issued a scathing report of the 287(g) program, setting forth 33
necessary recommendations to be implemented. As of today, ICE has
satisfied, in full, only three of the 33 recommendations, according to
the OIG.

ACLU is disappointed that the Senate has chosen to continue a program
that encourages racial profiling and has led to civil rights and
liberties abuses across the country," said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative
Counsel. "Over the last eight years, the 287(g) program has proven to be
unsalvageable, and it must now be terminated. In particular, the ACLU
calls for the immediate suspension of all nine 287(g) agreements
operating in Arizona, which recently passed the country's harshest
anti-immigrant law that promotes racial profiling of Latinos, including
U.S. citizens, permanent residents and lawful immigrants."

draft CIR bill summary describes some immigration detention reforms
including a troubling provision that would grant "heightened" detention
authority to the government in certain circumstances.

Senate CIR summary raises many red flags about encroachments on due
process and privacy," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU
Washington Legislative Office. "The ACLU calls on the Senate to support
reforms to our immigration laws that ensure that constitutional
guarantees of due process for every person are fully respected and
vigilantly protected."

draft outline and summary of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform
bill is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666