That REAL ID Bill: Americans Pay For Washington`s Cowardice

I
have decided that Hell is not a pit of fire and
brimstone. It`s an international

airport terminal
in California.

Spend an hour or two listening to nonstop baggage claim
instructions in

Tagalog and Farsi
and the concept of eternity is
easily understood.

So last week at the airport I was one of seven people
randomly selected
for extra-special security
screening.  

And, by the way, I was okay with the

notorious
pat-down procedure—until I met the
hairy she-man who was to perform it.  No good-looking
guy for Bryanna. Two words:

Not right.

Our group of suspected terrorists comprised: a
fifty-something Chanel-clad black woman; two white and
two Asian businessmen; and a blonde, thirty-something
girl from Alabama. 

Bringing the newbie up to speed, Lady Chanel greeted me
with "I have already missed my flight."

I
said "Well, if you middle-aged black women with great
handbags would stop hijacking planes…"

Altogether, three of us would miss our flights.

And even I remember when you could buy a plane ticket
from a private party and fly under their name.

As Southern Belle said:


"This isn`t fair. They
have detained people from every racial group except the

one responsible for terrorism
. They

attack us
and I lose my

freedom
but

they don`t.
"

Which brings me to the REAL ID bill.

Introduced by Congressman

James Sensenbrenner
(R-WI), HR 418 recently

passed the house by a vote of 261 to 161
. Now it`s
on its way to the Senate.

(Sidenote
One: with the support of the Bush White House.
Hmm.)

Most immigration reform and conservative groups support
REAL ID because it`s at least an attempt to ameliorate
some of the problems created by illegal mass
immigration. (NumbersUSA is in

favor
;

Carrying Capacity Network
is against.)

(Sidenote
Two:  But

Rep. Chris Cannon
 also supports the REAL ID Act—and
he is La Raza`s

politician of the year
.)

(Hmm again. Now I`m a little suspicious about how much
reform we`re going to see.)

Maybe it`s my misspent twenties in politics, but I
couldn`t resist downloading the bill and, well,
reading
it. [Full
text,


PDF
]

And, yes, it would close the three-mile hole in the
border near San Diego. Plus it would provide much-needed
reform of asylum procedures. 


These are good things.

But, according to
Judiciary Committee

summary
, the REAL ID Act will also:


Establish strong
security standards for the issuance of drivers`
licenses.


  • proof of lawful
    presence in the U.S.


  • all states must
    comply, to eliminate weak links in domestic identity
    security

(Proof of lawful
presence? I thought that was already a requirement.
Maybe the REAL stands for we really mean it this
time.)

Non
U.S. citizens have to provide

Evidence of Lawful Status
. That includes an
applicant who—


  • Has an approved
    application for

    asylum
    in the United States or has entered into
    the United States in

    refugee status


  • Has a valid,
    unexpired

    nonimmigrant visa
    or nonimmigrant visa status for
    entry into the United States


  • Has a pending
    application for asylum in the United States


  • Has a pending application for adjustment of status to
    that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent
    residence in the United States or conditional
    permanent resident status in the United States

The
bill contains no language suggesting that all states
must
issue a license if an applicant meets the
minimum standards. 

But,
every day, rogue states such as

Florida
 (and 9 others) issue

licenses to illegal aliens
. HR 418 establishes a
minimum security standard to which they will have to
conform.


This is
a good thing, too.

But…I
have questions.

My
Question One: Pending applications are
acceptable? 

So, basically, an alien can

enter the U.S. illegally
, live under the radar for a
spell and then one day apply for an

adjustment of status
And with that pending
application, he qualifies for a driver`s license?

My Question Two: What about President Bush`s

proposed
amnesty program? 

If REAL ID is enacted, millions of illegal aliens would
automatically qualify for a driver`s license.

That seems to be a step in the wrong direction.

Maybe that`s why the

Bush White House
supports it.

My Question Three: doesn`t this create a national
identity card?

Congressman
Sensenbrenner insists that the new program is strictly
voluntary.

But that isn`t what
the fine print says.

SEC.202. (a) (1)


Beginning 3 years
after the date of the enactment of this Act, a Federal
agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a
driver`s license or identification card issued by a
State to any person unless the State is meeting the
requirements of this section.

SEC.203 (a) is the Driver License Agreement.  It
requires electronic access to motor vehicle databases of
all 50 states and creates what is more or less a
national database.

Basically, if you want to board a plane, the Federal
Aviation Agency only accepts the new card.

If you don`t have it, you can`t fly.

This may not rise to the level of coercion. But it`s
awful pushy

My Question Four: Doesn`t this grant the Secretary of
Homeland Security a lot of unrestricted power?

Here`s what the bill says:

SEC.206. (a) Authority


All authority to issue
regulations, set standards, and issue grants under this
title shall be carried out by the Secretary, in
consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and
the States.

I
read this to mean that the Secretary would
unilaterally
set any standard or regulation he
deemed necessary.

This is a lot of power to be wielded by one man.

My Question Five: why do we need these new laws anyway?

Congressman Sensenbrenner has said:


"The goal of the Real
ID Act is straightforward: it seeks to prevent another
9/11-type attack by disrupting terrorist travel."

Identifying the
loophole which led to the 9/11 attacks, he said

"Mohammed
Atta received a 6-month visa to stay in the U.S. yet
received a Florida driver`s license good for 6 years!"

[Bill
Prompts New National ID Card Fears
, Jeff
Johnson, CNS news, February 09, 2005]

But Atta came in on a "valid, unexpired nonimmigrant
visa."
 (See the Judiciary Committee summary,
above.) Under the proposed REAL ID Act, Atta could still
have gotten a driver`s license good for six months.

What are we doing here?  Are we trying to get the
terrorists who reside legally in the United States
to speed things up?

This is like saying "Look, take your best shot—but I
haven`t got all day."

My conclusion: The REAL ID bill is well-intended. It is
just (to paraphrase the

former
David Brock on

Anita Hill
) a little bit flawed and a little bit
dangerous. 

Because our government lacks the moral courage to (a)

racially profile
to find terrorists and illegals,
and (b)
DEPORT ILLEGALS NOW, law-abiding Americans must suffer.

Post 9/11 America has become so desperate to avoid
another attack that we permit our government with the
power to strip our individual liberties.

My suggestion: at the very least, the Senate should
revise the residency status requirements to exclude
anyone not legally here—as opposed to anyone with a
pending application.

Immigration enthusiasts say: But the backlogs are so
long!

My compassionate womanly response: That`s the
illegals` problem
.

Maybe they should go home.

And, if denying a driver`s license to a foreign national
who matches the

ethnic profile
of every one of the
9/11 hijackers seems unfair, I say we keep the
license and tell them to be grateful that we let them in
at all.

The Senate should also adjust the structure of the
program to avoid a national database and provide the
appropriate administrative checks and balances. (List
available on request.)

Generally, we should seek reform which shifts the focus
from

penalizing Americans
to targeting terrorists.

Right now, we are trying to win the game of cat and
mouse by placing the mouse in a cage. 

We live to see another sunrise…we will just peer at it
through the bars.

(Is it going too far to call that a cheesy
metaphor?)


Bryanna Bevens [email
her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff
for a member of the California State Assembly.