Here’s a brief run-down of the lowlights from the “REAL ID Act” passed by the House yesterday.
Overstaying a visa becomes grounds to deny a driver’s license. There are many, many people who are now legal immigrants who have at some stage overstayed a visa period. Overstayed a student visa by a few days back when you were a student? No license for you! Plus, do you want all those illegal immigrants driving around with no license, no insurance, and without having passed a driving test? The government thinks you do and that it will improve your personal security…
The act reduces the allowed list of reasons to be granted asylum, so the petitioner now has to prove that their claim arises from persecution due to race, nationality, religion, or political group membership. Merely having your life at risk will no longer be sufficient. There will also need to be corroborating evidence; even if the state knows full well that the petitioner was tortured, they’ll be able to demand proof.
The act amends the law to allow the US to deport victims of terrorism. For example, Colombian refugees who were forced to make “protection money” payments to FARC death squads would now be liable for deportation for financial ties to a terrorist organization, without the government actually needing to present any evidence that the payments supported terrorism. The mere fact of monetary ties to FARC, whatever the circumstances, would be enough—and it’s believed that the majority of Colombian refugees have had money extorted from them by FARC.
Also, the government can refuse entry if they think you might be likely to engage in terrorist activity in the future. They don’t need actual evidence that you’ve ever committed any crime.
If a person is barred under the act, their spouse and children are also barred, even if they had nothing to do with the alleged activities.
Homeland Security can override any law short of the Constitution if it’s to enable them to build barriers or roads. If it’s cost-efficient to build a new road across your back yard, using toxic waste carried there by 12 year old kids working 18 hour days, the government can now contract Halliburton to build it that way. Oh, and there’s no judicial oversight allowed; “no court shall have jurisdiction”.
Oh, and everyone who’s an official of the PLO is now banned from the USA, including the UN building in New York. That’ll help the peace process.