Monday, May 09, 2005

Asian American Heritage Month, day 9

This is another lame post, but heralding the increasing politicization and visibility of APIAers in the political process. The Real ID Act has been passed in the House, and the Organization of Chinese Americans has released this statement:

OCA Action Alert! OCA Action Alert! OCA Action Alert! Fight Against the REAL ID Act! Call Today! Last weekend, the OCA National Board voted to officially oppose the Real ID Act. OCA is joining a coalition of over 600 organizations representing Asian Pacific Americans, businesses, communities of faith, environmentalists, civil liberties advocates and human rights advocates who oppose the Real ID Act. OCA supports national security measures to protect our country against  terrorist activity. OCA also supports comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration laws. As an underlying principle, OCA supports federal laws to protect against terrorist entry, and applauds efforts of Congress to enact enhanced security measures designed to identify terrorist activity, based on actions, rather than race or ethnicity.  Any measures, however, must be consistent with the American tradition of individual rights and liberties. OCA is deeply concerned that the Real ID Act of 2005 imposes unreasonable burdens on our nation's immigrants, and significantly undermines fundamental due process and basic fairness in our immigration system, while doing little to enhance our safety or reform our immigration system.  OCA is opposed to Real ID because of the following anti-immigrant provisions: Driver licenses would be tied to immigration status, which could lead to racial profiling and discrimination. This section would have a negative and disproportionate effect on  immigrants, including the APA community. There are not enough safeguards to protect against potential abuse.  People who are trying to flee from political persecution would be forced to meet unrealistic legal standards. Under Real ID, asylum applicants would be forced to provide evidence of a central motive for their persecutors, or people who would persecute them, if they remained in their country. OCA supports tougher hate crime laws, and those laws do not even ask for a victim to prove that a perpetrator's central motive was based on race, ethnicity, or national origin, etc.  Why should OCA support an asylum law that does? The right for immigrants to appeal the judicial review process would be taken away, and they could be up for deportation even before going to trial. The judicial review section is opposite of OCA's stance as a civil rights organization. Bureaucracies make errors, and people should always have the right to appeal.  Spouses and children of parties suspected of terrorism or those who donate to organizations that may have been linked at some point to terrorists would be unnecessarily punished through the guilt by association provision. Furthermore, it creates the risk that any donor who is not a citizen and contributes to charitable causes may be deported. OCA does not believe that the provision is humane and is concerned that it will deport legal permanent resident donors who are uninformed and want to give to Asian-related causes, but do not have the capacity to check all the associations of the recipient organization.  Private bounty hunters would be empowered by the government to hunt, arrest and detain people who they believe are illegal immigrants.  Also, federal and local government agencies would be obliged to provide the private bounty hunters with any information they think they would need to find these people who they believe to be illegal immigrants. OCA believes that border security should be left to the border patrol, not private citizen vigilantes. More than 600 organizations from across the political spectrum have declared their opposition to the Real Id Act ranging from environmental, health, business, Asian, faith, Hispanic, Native American and women groups. The costs of enacting this proposed legislation outweighs the benefits. The bill overall is not well crafted. BACKGROUND: Last week, the Senate passed the emergency spending bill to fund the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to provide much needed relief to the victims of the tsunami disaster (H.R. 1268). The Senate version of the bill does not include the REAL ID Act. Now the Senate and the House of Representatives will meet in conference to reconcile the differences between their versions of the bill. The House version of H.R. 1268 does contain the REAL ID Act.  Moreover, the White House has expressed support for the inclusion of REAL ID in the final emergency spending bill. We expect the conference to be completed by the end of this week. Please act NOW. What YOU can do: 1. Following are the members of the House and the Senate who are participating in the conference on H.R. 1268. If your member of Congress is a conferee listed below, please call his/her office and ask them to keep REAL ID out of the emergency spending bill. House: Jerry Lewis (R-CA) 202-225-5861 Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) 202-225-2542 Frank Wolf (R-VA) 202-225-5136 Charles Taylor (R-NC) 202-225-6401 Ralph Regula (R-OH) 202-225-3876 David Hobson (R-OH) 202-225-4324 Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) 202-225-5802 James Walsh (R-NY) 202-225-3701 Harold Rogers (R-KY) 202-225-4601 Bill Young (R-FL) 202-225-5961 Henry Bonilla (R-TX) 202-225-4511 David Obey (D-WI) 202-225-3365 Peter Visclosky (D-IN) 202-225-2461 Chet Edwards (D-TX) 202-225-6105 Alan Mollohan (D-WV) 202-225-4172 Nita Lowey (D-NY) 202-225-6506 Martin Sabo (D-MN) 202-225-4755 John Murtha (D-PA) 202-225-2065 Norman Dicks (D-WA) 202-225-5916 Senate: Thad Cochran (R-MS) - Chair, 202-224-5054 Ted Stevens (R-AK), 202-224-3004 Arlen Specter (R-PA), 202-224-4254 Pete Domenici (R-NM), 202-224-6621 Christopher Bond (R-MO), 202-224-5721 Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 202-224-2541 Conrad Burns (R-MT), 202-224-2644 Richard Shelby (R-AL), 202-224-5744 Judd Gregg (R-NH), 202-224-3324 Robert Bennett (R-UT), 202-224-5444 Larry Craig (R-ID), 202-224-2752 Kay Baily Hutchison (R-TX), 202-224-5922 Mike DeWine (R-OH), 202-224-2315 Sam Brownback (R-KS), 202-224-6521 Wayne Allard (R-CO), 202-224-5941 Robert Byrd (D-VA), 202-224-3954 Daniel Inouye (D-HI), 202-224-3934 Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 202-224-4242 Tom Harkin (D-IA), 202-224-3254 Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), 202-224-4654 Harry Reid (D-NV), 202-224-3542 Herb Kohl (D-WI), 202-224-5653 Patty Murray (D-WA), 202-224-2621 Byron Dorgan (D-ND), 202-224-2551 Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 202-224-3841 Richard Durbin (D-IL), 202-224-2154 Tim Johnson (D-SD), 202-224-5842 Mary Landrieu (D-LA), 202-224-5824 2. Please call the White House Comment Line TODAY (This line is designed specifically for this purpose) at (202) 456-1111. Please leave a message either with a live operator or with a voice mail system. Tell President Bush that he is wrong about the REAL ID Act and that you oppose it being included on the emergency spending bill. You can also fax a letter or statement to the White House at (202) 456-2461. Following are materials on the "REAL ID" Act: OCA's passed resolution opposing the Real ID Act OCA's background information on Real ID How the "REAL ID" Act would affect the Asian Pacific American community - Provides a detailed analysis of anti-Asian American and anti-immigrant provisions contained in the "REAL ID" Act from NAPALC Organizations that oppose REAL ID
Please, if you're an APIAer, or even just a concerned American of any colour, class or creed, please join the fight against the Real ID act. Especially APIAers, realize that your identity as an American means loving it enough to fight to improve it.


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