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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that Democrats will have to accept the Real I.D. Act — written by House Republicans to limit asylum claims and crack down on illegal immigrants obtaining driver’s licenses — as part of the final emergency war-spending bill.
Negotiators are trying to hammer out a compromise between the Senate’s $81 billion supplemental spending bill and the House’s $81.4 billion version this week. House Republicans have said they will insist the immigration security provisions remain in the bill.
Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said his party will not be able to stop them.
“They did it on purpose,” he told reporters yesterday. “They put it on a supplemental which they knew you couldn’t stop. I’ve had a senator come to me and say, ‘We’re going to filibuster this.’ I said, ‘Get real. It’s not going to happen. It’s a defense bill.’ “
Under Real I.D.’s provisions, the secretary of Department of Homeland Security could waive laws in border areas, allowing completion of a section of border fence near San Diego; judges would have more discretion in deciding asylum petitions; and the categories of those who can be deported for association with terrorist groups would be expanded.
But the most wide-ranging provision would set standards for government-issued IDs. The standards would include ensuring the holder is legally present in the United States. The 10 states that don’t meet those standards would not be forced to change, but residents could not use their IDs for federal purposes such as boarding an airplane.
(Posted on April 26, 2005)