New Bill Introduced to Fix Patriot Act Abuses

Democrats today introduced the Civil Liberties Restoration Act to curtail the abuses of the Patriot Act:

U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine and four other Senate Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday designed to correct what they consider the excesses of the USA Patriot Act and similar national security measures. The legislation would end the special registration program aimed at immigrants from the Middle East, create an independent immigration court and eliminate harsh penalties for some immigration violations.

Civil rights and immigrant groups praised the proposal as a long-overdue effort to protect civil liberties. "This law is necessary to restore constitutional freedoms that are being encroached upon by this administration," said Corzine, D-N.J. "This law, however, will not compromise the nations security. We can be both safe and free."

Here's the good things the bill would do:

The changes proposed in the Senate bill would end the government's blanket right to conduct deportation hearings in secret, allowing closures on a case-by-case basis, and would guarantee prompt release-bond hearings. The legislation also would require detainees to be apprised of the charges against them within 48 hours and would eliminate criminal penalties for minor technical violations of immigration law, such as failure to report a change of address within 10 days. The bill would limit the secret seizure of private databases and individual records.

Co-sponsors include: Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. U.S. Reps. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and William Delahunt, D-Mass., co-sponsored it in the House.

[link via Patriot Watch]

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