Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Papers ! ..... Show Me Your Papers !

Stateline.org reports that states across the country will have to begin to comply with stringent federal identification rules required by the 2005 Real ID Act. These are supposed to be new statutes to crack down on illegal aliens and is also a response to the fact that four of the 19 foreign hijackers on Sept. 11 had obtained valid U.S. driver’s licenses.

Suffice it to say, many states are passing their own immigration bills and laws regarding identification because they have been fed up by the federal government’s inability, or unwillingness, to stop illegal border crossings.

Millions of Americans will have to dig out documents (such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, and other proof of citizenship) out of safe-keeping or go to the expense of getting them reproduced, in order to renew their driver’s licenses or obtain social services. Four states – Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire and New York – already require Medicaid applicants to prove their citizenship. That's probably a good thing, but it's also creating problems for caseworkers and has been an impossible task for homeless people and people who have lost documents in personal tragedies like house fires. In some places it has become a Catch-22 where true citizens can’t get an identity card unless they’ve already got one.

The 2005 Real ID Act (Federal Act) is supposed to be a dragnet for terrorists, and illegal aliens, but real citizens of the US will also be affected and made to produce paperwork that they may not just have hanging around the house in a drawer. We also do not want to become like Fascist countries that require people to carry their identification papers everywhere they go. Texas Congressman Ron Paul has spoken out against this legislation. As of April 26, 2006, there was a bill which had passed committee in the New Hampshire Senate that would keep NH out of the 2005 Real ID Act. The NH bill had previously passed the NH House.

Lee Tien, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco consumer advocacy group that opposes national ID standards says that he worries that large government databases of personal information will be a threat to privacy and could expose consumers to identify theft and fraud. Others are concerned that technology such as sub-dermal implanted RFID chips will eventually be the means to carry personal identification.

We need to do something about illegal immigration and terrorism, but making US citizens carry National ID cards around with them seems very Un-American to me. To all who claim that we already do, by virtue of our drivers' licenses, somehow I just do not see that as quite the same thing.

FYI - Two RFID blogs that are worth reading are here and here.