The Bush Administration is facing a growing opposition by states against the implementation of REAL ID. REAL ID was passed in 2005 by putting it in an appropriations bill; avoiding the US Congress and a more public and democratic process.
REAL ID was opposed by the National Association of Governors and the National Association of State Legislatures. The 9/11 Commission also opposed the legislation clarifying that it was an immigration matter not an anti-terrorism matter.
REAL ID institutionalizes discrimination based on national origin. People without social security numbers would have the option of obtaining a driver’s license certificate-different in appearance-that could be used to drive but not to board a plane or enter a federal building. REAL ID creates different categories of driver’s licenses based on immigration status; be it citizen, permanent resident, temporary visa, or persons without a social security number. This categorization is reminiscent of fascism in Germany that used different symbols to categorize people in society.
It also violates privacy rights of all persons by forcing them to present more information to prove residency, immigration status and verifying those documents with the issuing agency.
The majority of documents are not in electronic format which would make verification very expensively and lengthy. It also creates more opportunity for identity theft. There is also a double standard in government in that they want all our information yet our leaders have refused to testify under oath.
Though this costly plan it is justified for national security reasons, the persons that were involved in the 9/11 tragedy had legal status; the fraudulence was based in some cases on residency. It also ignores what anti-terrorism experts recognize – the more people you have without a known identity makes it more difficult to identify a terrorist.
This is merely a tactic to create more hatred against immigrants; increasing the exploitation of undocumented workers and creating a national identification card.
Once again, the Administration is having to change the rules in implementing REAL ID based on state opposition because of it’s impracticability, cost, and violation of civil rights.
The most recent example was the necessity of the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to put pressure on New York’s Governor to implement it in his state.
Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security, has changed the date of implementation of REAL ID from it’s original date of May 2008 to 2013 and for now for persons over 40 to 2018.
DHS has also said that they will not force states to renew the licenses every 5 years, permit them to not use more costly materials to produce licenses that make it harder to falsify documents and giving each state the ability to establish their own system of verification to establish the authenticity of the documents.
With these changes the justification of REAL ID has lost all meaning because documents can be falsified easily and now there are more people without a known identity.
This is a desperate bid to keep REAL ID alive. Eight states have passed legislation to not participate in the program and nine more have passed resolutions in opposition, and more than 30 states are considering not implementing it, forcing conditions on their participation, or demanding that Congress to repeal it.
In Wisconsin we need to raise up a new campaign to unite with those status who are opposing REAL ID.