Monday, May 07, 2007

This Week in Washington

Hearings Focus on Family-Based Immigration and REAL ID

This week the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law will continue its series of hearings on immigration with two hearings this week. On Tuesday, May 8th at 9:30 am the Sub-Committee will hear testimonies on The Role of Family-Based Immigration in the U.S. Immigration System. On Friday, May 11th at 9:00 am the Sub-Committee will hold a hearing on the Impact of Immigration on States and Localities. Both hearings will be held in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building and are open to the public.

Senate Judiciary Committee to Examine Civil Liberties Concerns of REAL ID

On Tuesday, May 8th at 11:00 am, the full Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled "Will REAL ID Actually Make Us Safer? An Examination of Privacy and Civil Liberties Concerns" in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building. The witnesses will include Allen Gilbert (ACLU of Vermont), Jim Harper (CATO Institute), Dr. James Carafano (Heritage Foundation), Bruce Scheinier (BT Counterpane), and Janice Kephart (9/11 Security Solutions, LLC). For the full witness list click here.

May 8th Deadline for REAL ID Proposed Rule Comments

The Senate hearing occurs on the same day as the deadline for public comments on the Department of Homeland Security's proposed rule on the minimum standards for driver's licenses under REAL ID. Last week a coaltion of over 40 organizations launched a campaign for public comments to oppose the proposed rule.

Community members raised concerns about privacy, costs, and security of implementing the plan during a public hearing on May 1st held by the Department of Homeland Security at University of California - Davis.

Four states including Maine, Idaho, Arkansas, Montana, and Washington have opted out of REAL ID. In February, Representative Thomas Allen (D-ME) and Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced bills in the House (H.R. 1117) and Senate (S. 717) respectively to repeal Title II of the REAL ID Act of 2005 and reinstitute section 7212 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Under Title II of the REAL ID Act, applicants for new or renewed driver's licenses must provide documentation of their U.S. citizenship or immigration status.

The deadline for public comments on the proposed rule is May 8th at 5pm. To submit a comment visit and search for the DHS docket number "DHS-2006-0030" or by fax at 866-466-5370. The docket number should be included in all comments. The text of the proposed rule is available here.