The Real ID Act, passed by the US Congress to make getting a driver's license more difficult for terrorists and illegal aliens, is under attack and Real ID might be repealed by Congress.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week said she is working with governors to repeal the Real ID Act, which was passed in 2005 and went into effect last year.
One argument against the Real ID requirements is that they amount to an unfunded mandate on states. True. But states have become the de facto issuers of national ID cards. Identify theft and creation of false identities are enabled by the lax attitude the states take toward verifying identities before issuing drivers' licenses.
On Tuesday, Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a measure, House Bill 2677, barring Arizona's compliance with the Real ID program. In so doing, she called it an unfunded federal mandate that would stick states such as Arizona with a multibillion-dollar bill for the cost to develop and implement the series of new fraud-proof identification cards.
The Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, was intended to create nationwide security standards for driver’s licenses to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists and illegal immigrants. The law is based on a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, the independent panel that investigated the 2001 terrorist attacks and found that the Sept. 11 hijackers had obtained 30 pieces of state identification.
But states have revolted at Real ID, calling it an “unfunded federal mandate” that infringes on a core state responsibility: the issuance of driver’s licenses.
Since 2005, at least 18 states have passed legislation opposing Real ID, either through non-binding resolutions or through statutes that expressly prohibit participation in the program, according to a database kept by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The organization, which represents the nation’s more than 7,000 state legislators, will discuss the new congressional proposal on Friday (April 24) during its annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Some of the opposition to Real ID comes from people who do not want a crack down on illegal immigration. But not all the opposition stems from the debate over immigration.
Authentication that people are who they say they are is not a trivial problem to solve. Birth certificates are stored in county and city buildings all over the United States. There's no easy way to verify the authenticity of large numbers of birth certificates submitted at departments of motor vehicles as part of drivers license applications.
We need better measures for identifying people using false and stolen identities. Congress ought to enact other means for authenticating identity if Congress is going to repeal Real ID.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2009 April 22 11:39 PM Immigration Law Enforcement|