Category Archives: Immigration Reform

Real ID and Federal Overreach

In 2005 the Real ID Act, also known as H.R. 1268, was passed. This law places stringent requirements on the states to issue drivers licenses and state ID cards in a specific format, and requiring specific types of documentation to demonstrate a person’s identity.  Additionally, Real ID requires that all existing ID cards and licenses be compliant by December 1, 2014 for persons born after December 1, 1964, by December 1, 2017 for persons born before December 1, 1964, and that all the basic information from these licenses and ID cards be copied to a “national database”.  The national database could be accessed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).

The Real ID Act was prompted by a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission and the DHS to help combat “terrorism” by having applicants “prove” that they were U.S. citizens. The theory goes, that by having applicants supply a birth certificate, social security card, photo ID, and additional proof of legal U.S. citizenship (if not already proven by the previously mentioned documents), the Real ID card  confirms the identity of its holder and that the cardholder is, therefore, not a known terrorist. Non-compliant cards will bar holders from being able to fly on commercial flights, to gain security clearances, or to enter certain buildings.

The requirement of Real ID is essentially an infringement on state and individual rights. Driving is considered a privilege granted by the states, obtained through qualification for a driver license. In order to demonstrate competency to drive in Florida, a previously unlicensed applicant must pass a 4-hour drug and alcohol traffic awareness course, a DMV road signs & rules exam, and must perform basic driving tasks on a road test. Through reciprocity, our Florida Driver Licenses are recognized in other states. A license was never intended to be used as a passport or as a means to secure top secret clearance. The only function a Driver License should serve is to demonstrate competency to operate a motor vehicle and to help locate a driver who may be liable for personal injury or property damage caused while driving. The Real ID Act takes advantage of people’s desire to drive, infringes on their privacy, and places an unfunded financial burden on the state, which is then passed along to the licensee.

The Real ID privacy concerns arise out of the mandate for the creation of a national database that could be readily accessed by the TSA and DHS. A national database could expose one’s information to additional tracking and scrutiny without the necessity of a showing of probable cause.  Additionally, the documentation requirement would affect many immigrants with temporary work visas or students who may not have a social security number. Without the requisite social security card, persons would not be able to drive by car in order to take part in gainful employment or to obtain formal education.  As with the concealed carry laws, here the federal government grants the “privilege” (to drive) in exchange for the surrender of the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and therewith, infringes upon our Fourth & Tenth Amendment rights. It is interesting that some political factions accuse other political factions of voter discrimination in requiring a voter to show minimal forms of photo ID, but have not objected to the huge burden of proof placed upon Floridians simply to obtain a Florida Driver License.

By Bill Wohlsifer

Sources:

Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (December 28, 2013). Florida Driver License.

U.S. Congress (2005). H.R. 1268 Real ID Act – Title II. 

Lauren McClure (May 22, 2013). The Real ID Act: Are You Ready for a National ID?

Anne M. Gannon Constitutional Tax Collector (2013). About Real ID.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2013). Secure Driver’s Licenses.

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