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White House gives qualified approval of immigrant bill

[JURIST] The White House gave approval late on Wednesday to the REAL ID Act [THOMAS text], a House bill which would prevent immigrants from being able to use state driver's license to board airplanes and entering federal buildings. The bill would also make it easier for judges to deport those seeking political asylum. The Bush administration qualified its support, however, by asking Congress to remove limits on the number of asylum recipients who can obtain permanent US residency. Read the full statement of administration policy [PDF]. The bill's sponsor, House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) [official website], says the legislation is necessary to prevent terrorists from taking advantage of US immigration policies. Read the House Judiciary Committee's press release on the legislation. [official site] The bill's asylum provisions have been criticized by both human rights groups and Democrats, and the the driver's license measure is opposed by most governors and state motor vehicle departments. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Cal) [official website] has circulated a letter to House members showing that the bill in its current form would have prevented Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile] from visiting the US. The bill is currently still in committee. AP has more.

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