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Immigration Bill "Compromises" on Values

Tim Sparapani,
Washington Legislative Office
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May 20, 2007

By now you’ve heard of the deal cut between Senators Kennedy, Kyl, McCain and others to try and push through comprehensive immigration reform this year. The White House is also supporting the “compromise” deal.

While language has not been finalized for large parts of the bill, we do know that some of the worst proposals from last year’s immigration debate did not make it in this time around , including expanding expedited removal and the wrongly named Fairness in Immigration Litigation Act.

But the bill does contain a lot of really bad provisions that undermine American values and the Constitution. Almost all judicial review of any DHS errors in reviewing a person’s immigration status would be eliminated or greatly limited. Further, the Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) would require every person in America to carry a hardened Social Security card containing biometric information (such as fingerprints, retina scan and DNA) about the cardholder , essentially a national ID, and present a Real ID-compliant driver’s license to get any new job.

EEVS also creates a vast federal database to verify the work eligibility of all job applicants in America , including U.S. citizens. The system would contain extraordinary amounts of personal information on everyone who seeks or holds a job, all of it keyed to a person’s Social Security number. If this bill passes, we will all have our eligibility to work in the U.S. approved by the Department of Homeland Security every time we apply for a job. If you think looking for work is hard now, just wait until you are stuck in a DHS bureaucratic nightmare trying to get that little holiday second retail gig or become a schoolteacher in the town you’ve lived in all your life. No one will be able to work in the U.S. without DHS approval. And, if DHS makes a mistake, you’ll have virtually no way to challenge the error or recover lost wages because the bill essentially forecloses judicial review of government errors.

Certain triggers will have to be met before immigrants are able to apply for permanent residency, such as the completion of a mandatory detention system, the hiring of 18,000 new border patrol agents and the construction of 370 miles of border wall.

There is a lot of opposition to this deal coming from both the right and the left, so the chances that the bill will pass remain unclear, but the ACLU is very concerned about the bill. Nancy Pelosi is already saying that changes are going to have to be made to get the bill through the House of Representatives.

The current immigration system is clearly broken, but we must not fall into the trap of seeking immigration reform no matter what the cost. That is why the ACLU is working vigorously to ensure that any comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed by Congress respects due process, protects privacy, and adheres to the values of our country and our Constitution. This “compromise” cannot be allowed to compromise our values.

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