Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's The Status of Real-ID?

The Republican Liberty Caucus gives this update:

Real ID Must Be Implemented By May 11

There isn’t much current information about REAL ID despite that a major implementation benchmark for the law is scheduled occur in just two months.

The REAL ID Act requires state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards to meet federal standards by a certain date in order to be accepted for federal purposes, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. The Department of Homeland Security sells REAL ID as a tool “to help prevent terrorism, reduce fraud, and improve the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents.”

States must now be in full-compliance by May 11, 2011. The penalties for residents in non-compliant states are pretty tame …, or not.

Those innocent, law-abiding citizens will not be able to use their driver’s license to board commercial aircraft, gain access to federal facilities or enter nuclear power plants.

Some Republicans Are Pushing for A National ID Card

Earlier this week House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) and Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano encouraging her to fully implement the REAL ID Act of 2005.

According to FOX News, REAL ID has won support from many anti-immigration advocates because it requires driver’s licenses issued to immigrants to expire at the same time as their stay in the U.S. and therefore invalidates licenses of immigrants who overstay.

According to former Congressman Bob Barr, a privacy advocate, “A person not possessing a Real ID Act-compliant identification card could not enter any federal building, or an office of his or her congressman or senator or the U.S. Capitol. This effectively denies that person their fundamental rights to assembly and to petition the government as guaranteed in the First Amendment.”

Yet REAL ID is still being implemented. And it’s being implemented despite that half of the states in the country have opted out of REAL ID or have passed resolutions objecting to the national ID law. The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly extended the deadline and reduced the compliance bar to suggest progress on the national ID effort, according to the Cato Institute’s Jim Harper.

What Can Be Done to Stop REAL ID?

H.R. 1 is the budget bill Republicans are pushing in the House. If passed, it would would fund the government from March 4 through the September 30. Congressman David Price, a Democrat from North Carolina, proposed Amendment #277 to add the following language to the FY 2011 spending bill:

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-13).”

This Amendment may be the last opportunity to hit the REAL ID Act before it is thrust onto the American people. While many states have opted out, don’t be so sure that the federal government won’t ignore state opt-outs. It’s much easier for them to implement a national ID card if every state is forced into the plan.

Please ask your members of Congress to support Amendment 277 to H.R. 1. Once implemented, REAL ID will be required by employers to hire you and will restrict your ability to travel in “the land of the free”. It’s imperative that you contact Congress today on this important issue.

(A special thanks to Jim Harper for providing the details on this Amendment.)