Senator Sarbaines responded that while he didn't like the REAL ID act much, he voted for the appropriations bill because he had to support the troops.
Yesterday (quite some time after the bill passed the Senate), I get the following e-mail from Senator Mikulski.
Dear Mr. Stagg:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the REAL ID Act of 2005. It's good to hear from you.
As you may know, the REAL ID Act was added as an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, H.R. 1268. This controversial and overly-broad provision has no place in an emergency spending bill. The changes to our immigration laws and the policies on asylum proposed by this legislation are major modifications that are contentious on both sides of the aisle.
Plain and simple, REAL ID drastically changes our immigration laws, limits access to the courts and due process, and places significant new costs and duties on local and state governments. It's the type of change that both the House and the Senate should have deliberated on and given in-depth consideration to. The Senate should have had the ability to review, debate, and amend this provision before it became a permanent part of our federal immigration law.
It is important for Congress to recognize the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Yet, immigration reform must balance our concerns for protecting our borders with reforming the immigration process. The United States is a nation of immigrants and it is important that we honor that history. Like millions of other Americans, my great-grandparents came to this country to build a better life for themselves and for their children. Our country is strengthened by its new citizens who make up the mosaic of our nation.
Again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of service to you again in the future, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator
It passed the Senate 100-0, so she voted for it, anyway. I responded to her message asking why.
I think I may have to send a link to this post to the local news/talk radio station. It's important to see how the process works, and we need to hold our elected representatives accountable for how they vote, not continue to elect them because of who they are.