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|3/25: ACTION ALERT REMINDER: Contact Your Senators About REAL ID
Released 31 March 2005  By Vanessa Cardenas and Maurice Belanger, National Immigration Forum
Director of Public Information
National Immigration Forum
As we noted in an e-mail last week, action on the REAL ID Act has moved to the Senate (see below for background information). We need to continue reaching out to senators to ask that they oppose the REAL ID Act. A coordinated national day of action is in the works for the Week of April 11. We'll send out details later, when we have them. Stay tuned!
IN THE MEANTIME, WHAT CAN WE DO?
Call or visit your senators while they are in their district office. Your senators will be home through April 1st. In addition to arguing against the REAL ID Act on the merits, please ask them to take this additional step:
o If they are Republican: They should tell their leadership-Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Bill Frist (R-TN)-that they oppose REAL ID, don't want to see it as part of appropriations legislation, and that attaching it may bog down the appropriations bill in extended debate. Cochran is Chair of the Appropriations Committee and Frist is the Senate Majority Leader.
o If they are Democrat: They should tell their leadership-Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Harry Reid (D-NV)-that they oppose REAL ID, don't want to see it as part of appropriations legislation, and that attaching it may bog down the appropriations bill in extended debate. Byrd is the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee Reid is the Senate Minority Leader.
This step is important, because REAL ID must be kept off the Senate version of the spending bill. The appropriators (that is, Cochran and Byrd) may be convinced to keep it off the spending bill because they generally do not like controversial policy proposals attached to their spending bills.
For suggested talking points, please visit http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=654
Write a Sample Letter If you prefer to send a letter by fax to your senators' offices, you can use the sample letter on our Web site, and personalize it:
REAL ID Goes to the Senate
The House passed a bill that will provide additional money for the war in Iraq, for military operations in Afghanistan, and for tsunami relief (among other things). As expected, James Sensenbrenner's REAL ID Act has been attached to that appropriation bill. The bill passed the House 388 to 43.
As you will recall from previous e-mails, the REAL ID Act, if enacted, will make it practically impossible for someone to win asylum in the U.S., requiring asylum seekers to meet a credibility standard that no member of Congress (for example) could meet. It would also induce states to deny drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants; further restrict the due process rights of immigrants; give bail bondsmen unprecedented powers to decide whether an immigrant is a flight risk and to go after him or her; and give the Secretary of Homeland Security the power to waive all laws that he feels might interfere with building border barriers. For a more detailed review of REAL ID provisions, and for materials related to the bill, go to our Web site:
Ultimately, a supplemental appropriations bill will pass overwhelmingly in the Senate. The question now is, "Will it have REAL ID attached to it?"
THE SENATE'S OPTIONS
The Senate can take up the House appropriations bill (with REAL ID attached), or senators can consider their own appropriations bill. In the latter case, that bill may face amendments as it goes through Senate passage (including something like REAL ID, if someone were to offer it).
In any case, the Senate will have to deal with REAL ID, either in the chamber or during a conference committee with the House. One way it may do so is to insist that REAL ID be dropped from any House/Senate compromise package. On the other hand, some senators may feel that if the House wants to attach an extraneous immigration matter to a military operations supplemental spending bill, the door is open for other immigration provisions that are priorities for senators.
The Senate will consider the supplemental spending bill after they return from recess April 5th.
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