The Tar Pit

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bush Admin. "strongly supports" REAL ID Act
(Sensenbrenner drivers' licence bill)

This is outstanding. Kudos to President Bush.

From the Office of Management and Budget (transcribed from pdf):

The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 418, to strengthen the ability of the United States to protect against terrorist entry into and activities within the United States. In particular, the legislation tightens procedures for non-citizen entry into and presence in the United States, and facilitates the strengthening by States of the standards for the security and integrity of drivers' licenses.

The Administration supports the provisions in H.R. 418 to strengthen the standards for issuance of drivers' licenses. The Administration will work with Congress to clarify the definition of "official purpose" for which licenses or identification cards may be accepted by Federal Agencies.

The Administration will work with Congress to consider providing authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure individuals with licenses or identification cards that do not meet the full criteria in this bill could not use these documents to access non-Federal critical infrastructure or to operate certain large vehicles. The Administration will also work with Congress to consider biometric screening of individuals who cannot otherwise demonstrate citizenship or lawful immigration status. Biometric screening, which is applied to most entering classes of aliens through the US-VISIT program, would be a valuable tool in identifying possible links to terrorism.

The Administration supports the provision in H.R. 418 regarding asylum reform, provided that Congress includes a provision to rescind asylee adjustment caps and makes other technical changes to ensure the changes do not unintentionally create new barriers to asylum. The Administration also supports provisions tightening non-citizen entry, but notes that some of these provisions would require refinement to ensure consistency with foreign policy priorities.

Does anyone know if pro-Amnesty Senators John McCain and Larry Craig got the memo from the White House?

One "official purpose" that should require secure identification that is compliant with H.R. 418 is the ability to open bank accounts. Rather than allowing the use of Mexican matricula consular ID cards for illegal aliens, the Treasury Department ought to yank FDIC coverage for any bank that accepts non-compliant identification. No more money laundering and facilitation of the international transfer of the gains of illegal employment.

Here is today's Sensenbrenner House Floor Statement on REAL ID Legislation

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) delivered the following remarks during today's House floor debate on H.R. 418, the REAL ID legislation:

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In December, the President signed into law legislation intended to respond to the recommendations of 9/11 Commission. Unfortunately, the legislation that was enacted failed to include several key provisions critical to addressing vulnerabilities found in both the 9/11 Commission report and the 9/11 staff report on terrorist travel. To that end, on January 26th of this year, I introduced H.R. 418 - the REAL ID Act. This bill, which now has 139 co-sponsors, encompasses four of the most important border and document security provisions that the House overwhelmingly approved as a part of H.R. 10 last year.

"The goal of the REAL ID Act is straightforward. It seeks to prevent another 9/11-type terrorist attack by disrupting terrorist travel. The 9/11 Commission's terrorist travel report stated that 'abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activities.' The report further states that, 'members of Al Qaida clearly valued freedom of movement as critical to their ability to plan and carry out the attacks prior to September 11th.' Finally, the report observes, 'if terrorist travel options are reduced, they may be forced to rely on means of interaction which can be more easily monitored and to resort to travel documents that are more easily detectable.'

"The REAL ID Act contains four provisions aimed at disrupting terrorist travel. First, the legislation does not try to set states' policy for those who may or may not drive a car, but it does address the use of a driver's license as a form of identification to a federal official. American citizens have the right to know who is in their country, that people are who they say they are, and that the name on the driver's license is the real holder's name, not some alias.

"Second, this legislation will tighten our asylum system, which has been abused by terrorists. The 9/11 Commission staff report on terrorist travel states that 'once the terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud.' Irresponsible judges have made the asylum laws vulnerable to fraud and abuse. We will end judge-imposed presumptions that benefit suspected terrorists in order to stop providing a safe haven to some of the worst people on Earth. The REAL ID Act will reduce the opportunity for immigration fraud so that we can protect honest asylum seekers and stop rewarding the terrorists and criminals who falsely claim persecution.

"Liberal activist judges in the 9th Circuit have been overturning clearly established precedent and are preventing immigration judges from denying bogus asylum applications by aliens who are clearly lying. If criminal juries can sentence a defendant to life imprisonment or execution based on adverse credibility determinations, certainly an immigration judge can deny an alien asylum on this basis. It is one of the foundations of our system of jurisprudence that juries and trial judges should be able to decide cases on the basis of the credibility or lack of credibility of witnesses. The bill will again allow immigration judges to deny asylum claims on the basis of credibility.

"The bill overturns an even more disturbing 9th Circuit precedent that has made it easier for terrorists to receive asylum. The Circuit has actually held that an alien can receive asylum on the basis that his or her government believes the alien is a terrorist.

"Third, the REAL ID Act will waive federal laws to the extent necessary to complete gaps in the San Diego border security fence, which is still stymied eight years after congressional authorization. Neither the public safety nor the environment are benefitting from the current stalemate.