Feb. 7, 2005 – Immigrantsâ€™ rights groups and environmentalists are concerned about a bill making its way through Congress which would, among other things, mandate that more fence be built along the California-Mexico border. The legislation, known as the Real ID Act of 2005, gives the Homeland Security Secretary broad power to "waive" all laws he "determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction" of a proposed barrier on the border north of Tijuana, Mexico. The law also strips power from all courts to hear any cases regarding the Secretaryâ€™s decision.
While proponents of the bill insist that the wall is needed to stem illegal immigration and to prevent terrorists from entering the country unprotected, the legislationâ€™s critics say that past border control measures have failed to stop migration across the border and have only served to make the trip more risky for immigrants (previous coverage). Additionally, environmentalists weigh in against the bill out of concern that the needed terrain changes and construction will disrupt the delicate nearby Tijuana Estuary, home to rare wildlife.
The controversial barrier is just one part of the Real ID Act causing concern among rights groups. Other provisions make seeking political asylum in the US more difficult and make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to obtain driverâ€™s licenses (previous coverage).