OK, so on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its regulations for the Real ID plan. States have until 2014 to reissue the new “tamper-proof” licenses to those born during or after 1964 and until 2017 for those born before that, a compromise to appease some states who complained that it would be too hard and costly to implement the plan. Many states have argued that it’s unconstitutional and still too costly.
The new ID’s are required to have a digital photograph and a filament and/or some anti-counterfeiting security device. The cards will not have a radio-controlled computer chip, which was one of the more disputed parts of the project.
Employers would have to check that the persons identification was Real ID compliant in order to help stop illegal immigrants from getting jobs.
Back in 2005, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1268 368-58 and the passed the bill 100-0. President Bush signed it into law on May 11th, 2005. Since none of the Democrats debated that part of the bill back in 2005, I don’t see what all the fuss is about from Congressmen and Senators now (i.e.: Patrick Leahy [D-VT] who said that it “is difficult to think this is anything but the first, big step toward a national identification card that so many Americans oppose” in a statement where he said that he would push for legislation to remove the driver’s license provisions from the bill).
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said, “Most people accept that you need to identify yourself. I see no argument in favor of making it easier to pony up fake identity.” I have to agree here. The system proposed now can’t hurt us, but there are some problems I have with the plan:
I hate the name. My apologies to James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the sponsor of the original Real ID Act, but the name stinks.
There needs to be enough funding for states. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) said that it is “unrealistic to expect our state to conform [when] the federal government has only provided a mere 3 percent of the funds needed for implementation.” I agree. If the federal government is going to mandate these new identification cards, it can help finance the move. DHS is now estimating that the program will cost $3.9 billion to implement, which is down from the original $14 billion.
The threat against residents from states not complying not being able to fly. If you aren’t requiring the states to have ALL of their ID’s changed over by May 11th, 2008, then don’t punish the states who haven’t started at all. Wait until the final deadline comes in 2017 and THEN deny their residents the PRIVILEGE to fly without a Real ID-compatible ID card. And remember, you can still use forms of federal government ID and passports, which WILL be Real ID-compatible.
Allow for people to choose if they want the radio chip. Some people may want it. Chips in passports make going through security quicker, so allow people to choose it if they want instead of just scrapping this idea all together.
In all, I’m for this plan. The states need to just go along with this – it’s in the best interest of the country, but the federal government needs to help out with the cost here. If you’re making the states change, you can cough some up yourself.