US immigration policies aimed at identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants are often problematic. Research consistently shows that such policies lead to widespread racial profiling, indefinite detention without due process, damage to public safety, and many privacy and civil rights violations.
But the trend toward documentation extends beyond the immigrant community. The FBI has developed NextGen, a national biometric identification system for all Americans, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The Department of Homeland Security is overseeing the implementation of a Real ID, which will force states bring their driver’s licenses into compliance with federal standards, in effect creating a national I.D. card and database. DHS also oversees e-Verify, a national database employers can check to see if someone is legally allowed to work in the U.S., thereby creating the situation that people need the federal government’s permission to work.
The emphasis on documentation puts the federal government directly at the center of our lives, and the vast databases of our personal information creates significant privacy and security risks.
REAL ID threatens privacy, creates bureaucratic chaos, costs a fortune, and doesn’t do what it purports to do. More than nine states haven’t embraced REAL ID yet, and we can see why.
HB-1134 sought to take Colorado backwards by re-instating “show-me your papers” legislation in the state and punishing local Sheriffs and County officials that are protecting the constitutional rights of all Coloradans by refusing to hold people for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without judicially approved warrants.
DHS is responsible for a number of areas where civil liberties are concerned. It oversees immigration enforcement, as well as, the US response to the border. DHS has been implicated in the monitoring of domestic social movements. It is therefore highly inappropriate that Kelly, given his background of human rights abuses and anti-civil libertarian views, would be named to head the DHS.
Sessions has a long and documented history of opposing the rights of vulnerable populations, disregarding the First Amendment, and championing torture. As Attorney General, Sessions would be head of the department in charge of overseeing the protections of civil rights and the most powerful law enforcement in the nation. Given his historic hostility to civil liberties this is unacceptable. Sessions was rightfully rejected as a judicial nomination and should be similarly rejected for Attorney General.