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Draft legislation undermines commitment to refugees, say U.S. bishops

.- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says draft legislation, which would have barriers and walls constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border, would undermine U.S. commitments to protecting victims of foreign persecution and make the country less secure. The immigration law, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), is currently being debated in the House of Representatives.

According to a USCCB statement, the REAL ID Act would make changes in the area of asylum protection, the issuance of driver’s licenses and state identification cards. It would bring about the construction of barriers and walls along the U.S.-Mexico border and change the grounds for removal and admissibility of immigrants. The legislation would also restrict judicial review of certain types of immigration relief.

“In opposing the legislation, we strongly believe that its provisions would effectively weaken the protection of asylum, thus preventing victims of persecution from receiving its protections; undermine our national security; and promote unsound public policy,” said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino in statement Feb. 9. 

In a letter to the members of the House, the chairman of the USCCB Migration Committee argued that restricting access to asylum would “deny legitimate asylum seekers protection in our nation, a traditional haven of refuge for the world’s oppressed.”

The REAL ID Act “would not make our nation safer, as proponents of the measure argue,” said the bishop.

Limiting access to driver’s licenses would “make our roads less safe” because law enforcement officials have stated that “denying eligibility for licenses to persons not lawfully present in the United States would increase the number of untrained, unlicensed, and uninsured drivers,” said the statement.

For the full text by Bishop Gerald Barnes, go to: http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2005/05-026a.shtml


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