Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Immigration and Real ID

According to an article in the New York Times,

Congress is moving quickly toward setting strict rules on how states issue driver's licenses, requiring them to verify whether each applicant for a new license or a renewal is in this country legally. ...

Under the rules being considered, before granting a driver's license, a state would have to require proof of citizenship or legal presence, proof of an address and proof of a Social Security number. It would need to check the legal status of noncitizens against a national immigration database, to save copies of any documents shown and to store a digital image of the face of each applicant.

Those who oppose the idea argue that it's tantamount to a national ID, it would cost the states too much money, and it would create a national data base that could be stolen and used for illegal purposes such as identity theft. Those more willing to openly state their beliefs, such as a pro-immigration group that demonstrates against Maryland's driver's license documentation laws, claim any such law is discriminatory, racist, etc.

This is another no-brainer issue. Drivers' licenses are already a de facto national ID. We use them to get on airplanes, rent cars, register in hotels, make financial transactions, and for a multitude of other identification purposes. So it creates another data base, among the thousands that already exist. That's a fact of modern life. The only concern I would have is that this federal mandate should at least partially fund additional state efforts.

Think about it. The ability to get a driver's license was a major contributor to the success of the murderers of 911, some of whom were in the U.S. illegally or on a questionable basis that stricter controls might have exposed. We give lip-service to the idea that things changed on 911, but we have to understand that this is the kind of change we must live with in order to protect ourselves. Driver's licenses are the principal form of legal identification in the U.S., and denying them to illegal aliens, who are criminals, and others who can't prove their legal status makes good sense.


Blogger Grendel said...

Biometric atributes on drivers licences are not that far off imho...

3:54 PM, May 10, 2005  

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