May 20, 2005

Hammers are very versatile.

You can use them to build things. Or you can use them to smash things.

Dubya's administration just got a shiny new hammer called the Real ID Act. Guess which way this hammer is being used?

In the first use of the act, the US Justice Department is asking a federal court to deport a Togolese refugee essentially because she missed a filing deadline.

Asylum-seeker Ablavi Malm, 51, was ordered deported to Togo in 1998 because her application for refugee status was denied after she failed to turn up for the hearing, according to court documents. Her subsequent appeal invoking the protection of anti-torture statutes was filed 20 days too late to be considered, according to her lawyer, Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights USA.

Sklar says Togolese security forces are notorious for their poor human-rights record and that Malm and members of her family there have been tortured.

The REAL ID Act, signed into law last week, mainly deals with the integrity of the nation's drivers' licensing systems -- setting minimum standards and effectively denying licenses to undocumented migrants and other illegal aliens. But it also includes a series of provisions designed to counter what its authors say is abuse of the immigration system, including by terrorists.

The Malm case is likely to become a flashpoint for arguments about the immigration provisions of the new law.

"I'm amazed that the government would use the legislation in this way," Sklar told United Press International. "It is even harsher than Congress intended.

"This 51-year-old rape survivor is about as far from a terrorist threat as it is possible to get."

The only thing that surprises us about this story is the fact that Sklar was amazed at how the feds are using the Real ID Act.

Via UPI.

Posted by Magpie at May 20, 2005 11:45 AM | Human Rights | Technorati links |