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Ethan Ackerman on politics behind Real ID and the immigration bill

Previous Politech message:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Senate backs away from Real ID Act (but federal 
database of 'employables' seems assured)
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 10:43:28 -0400
From: Ethan Ackerman <eackerma@u.washington.edu>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>

Great translations of the legislative process, Declan!

Citizens concerned about the Real ID and 'government approval before
being employable' provisions in the Senate immigration bill may want
to follow closely votes on 3 amendments you've helpfully collected and
linked to - the Baucus-Tester, Baucus-Grassley-Obama, and Schumer
amendments. Votes will likely happen today and tomorrow.

But it is worth noting that NONE of these amendments substantially
alters a central part of this immigration bill - mandatory employment
verification of ALL US employees against a federal database.
(Baucus-Grassley-Obama arguably lengthens time and gives more appeals
rights for those faced with inevitable errors, but even this amendment
still mandates universal employment verification.)

Briefly, Baucus-Tester strips Real ID references and prevents funding
of real ID to states, throttling but not outright repealing the

Baucus-Grassley-Obama replaces the Real ID references in the
Employment Verification provisions with a more relaxed, state
ID-friendly structure that is also arguably softer on privacy and
employers.  This amendment doesn't adress Real ID funding or other
uses of Real ID (airports, courts) at all.

The Schumer amendment is of interest to those concerned about
'national ID' issues for a different reason.  It expands Social
Security card use and requirements, including in Employment
verification, and shares the Social Security database with DHS, and
will potentially require biometric-enhanced cards.  The underlying
bill already does this to some extent, but the Schumer amendment has
drawn fire for its mandatory nature and additional sharing and
biometric requirements.

The ACLU's Caroline Frederickson lays out what each of these
amendments do in some more detail at:
- note that the Whitehouse Office of Strategic Initiatives has even
apparently posted a reply comment disputing aspects of the post.

EFF's "Action Alert" gives similar information:


Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jun 28, 2007 in category privacy

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