Back to News & Commentary

The Senate Immigration Bill Is Back, and It's BAD...

Tim Sparapani,
Washington Legislative Office
Share This Page
June 20, 2007

We thought it might be over but it looks like the Senate immigration bill is coming back with a vengeance. The White House and key senators from both parties have worked out a deal that would bring the bill back to the Senate floor possibly at the end of next week. This time around the bill stands a strong chance of passing, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wouldn’t bring it back to the floor if it didn’t.

Make no mistake about it, this is a horrible bill from a civil liberties perspective, and it’s going to get a lot worse. The base bill already contains a number of awful provisions that would undermine due process, infringe on the privacy of all Americans and expand the Real ID national identification card scheme.

As a part of the deal senators will vote on 22 amendments to the bill, including one offered by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that would require every American to carry a hardened social security card containing the cardholder’s biometric information (such as fingerprints or DNA). Reactionary proposals like these will do nothing to solve the problems of illegal immigration. They go against the values of our country and our Constitution.

The ACLU is supporting two good amendments , one offered by Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana that would strike the Real ID requirements from the bill. Sixteen states have already opted out of Real ID, setting a historic precedent for non-compliance with a federal mandate.

The other amendment that the ACLU is supporting, is offered by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Baucus (D-MT) and Barak Obama (D-IL) and would substitute a due process- and privacy-friendly Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) plan for the one written by Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and the Department of Homeland Security that is already a part of the base bill. EEVS creates a vast federal database to verify the eligibility to work of all job applicants in America , including U.S. citizens. If the immigration bill passes as-is, we will all need to have our eligibility to work approved by the Department of Homeland Security every time we apply for a job.

It is urgent that you contact your senators and tell them to support both of these amendments. The votes are going to be close, so we need to make senators know Americans demand that they protect our rights and our privacy. We do need immigration reform , but not at this cost.

You can take action right now to urge your Senators to support the Baucus-Tester and the Grassley-Baucus-Obama amendments.