Proposed Immigration Bill Raises Civil Liberties Concerns, Says ACLU

April 29, 2010 12:00 am

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Draft Bill Summary Proposes National ID System For All Americans

April 29, 2010

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union has serious reservations about a draft version of a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill summary posted on Politico late Wednesday. Although the ACLU has not seen the full legislative language of the bill, the published draft raises serious civil liberties concerns, including a troubling provision which would create a biometric national ID card. Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein and Bob Menendez will hold a press conference this evening to unveil their outline of the bill.

If the biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law, every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted and a new federal bureaucracy – one that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars – would have to be created to issue cards. The ACLU strongly opposes the inclusion of a biometric national ID in this or any comprehensive immigration reform bill and urges senators to reject such an ID card.

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy – one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “America’s broken immigration system needs real, workable reform, but it cannot come at the expense of privacy and individual freedoms.”

The draft bill also provides for continuation of the much-criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program. Earlier this month the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a scathing report of the 287(g) program, setting forth 33 necessary recommendations to be implemented. As of today, ICE has satisfied, in full, only three of the 33 recommendations, according to the OIG.

“The ACLU is disappointed that the Senate has chosen to continue a program that encourages racial profiling and has led to civil rights and liberties abuses across the country,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Over the last eight years, the 287(g) program has proven to be unsalvageable, and it must now be terminated. In particular, the ACLU calls for the immediate suspension of all nine 287(g) agreements operating in Arizona, which recently passed the country’s harshest anti-immigrant law that promotes racial profiling of Latinos, including U.S. citizens, permanent residents and lawful immigrants.”

The draft CIR bill summary describes some immigration detention reforms including a troubling provision that would grant “heightened” detention authority to the government in certain circumstances.

“The Senate CIR summary raises many red flags about encroachments on due process and privacy,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The ACLU calls on the Senate to support reforms to our immigration laws that ensure that constitutional guarantees of due process for every person are fully respected and vigilantly protected.”

The draft outline and summary of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill is available at:

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