THE ACTUAL BILL-H.R. 418
Title: To establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driver’s license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence.
Sponsor: Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5] (introduced 1/26/2005) Cosponsors (140)
Related Bills: H.RES.71, H.RES.75, H.RES.151, H.R.1268
Latest Major Action: 2/17/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Note: Pursuant to H. Res. 151, the text of H.R. 418, as passed House, was appended as Division B to the end of H.R. 1268. Division B was further modified in conference. H.R. 1268 became P.L. 109-13 on 5/11/2005.
THE PIGGYBACK RIDE-H.R.1268 GIVES H.R. 418 A RIDE
Title: An act making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes.
So H.R. 418 – the REAL ID Act – was appended to the end of H.R. 1268. Of course, since H.R. 1268 was a bill including supplemental emergency appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, who could vote against it? The Bill passed with little debate and no hearings. Thus, the public got the REAL ID Act whether they wanted it or not, whether they knew anything about it or not, or whether they understood it or not.
If you live or work in the United States, you will need a federally approved ID card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments, or take advantage of nearly all governmental services. Practically speaking, your driver’s license will be reissued to meet federal standards.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 creates a system of national identification cards. It is a law imposing federal technological standards and verification procedures on state driver’s licenses and identification cards, many of which are beyond the current capacity of the federal government. After more than two years, the Department of Homeland Security issued draft regulations for state compliance on March 1, 2007; the Act mandates state compliance with these regulations by May 2008.
In reality, the REAL ID Act turns state DMV workers into quasi-immigration officials, as they must verify the citizenship status of all those who want a REAL ID approved state driver’s license or identification card. The license branch will be responsible for verifying these documents, and, if verification cannot be obtained quickly, a temporary license may be issued until verification is obtained.
Indiana has unveiled its new driver license and identification card using justifications such as it “will help battle identity theft and card tampering and assist in the detection of underage drinking through use of innovative technology.” Those 21 and over will have a license which can be read horizontally and those under 21 will have one that reads vertically. The back of the card describes the endorsements and restrictions as applicable. A two-dimensional barcode on the back contains demographic data from the front of the card making duplication of the document more difficult. The bar code will also enable police to scan the code into their databases, which will ultimately be shared on a nationwide basis. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Documents List provides groups of documentation that will be acceptable pending verification.
As usual, there will be those out there who parrot the old phrase, “Well if you don’t have anything to hide, then what’s the problem.” Benjamin Franklin, the oldest participant at the Constitutional Convention, said in 1759 that “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
And therein lies the difficulty. Exactly what is an “essential” or indispensable liberty. Is it possible to overlook the incremental chinking away of not-so-essential liberties to one day wake up to find that all those not-so-essential liberties have culminated in the loss of our very foundations of freedom? The whole is the sum of its parts – the deprivation of liberty is the sum of what citizens will accept as necessary and temporary safety measures. But those individual and temporary safety measures, one by one, may well ultimately add up to a deprivation of essential liberty.