That REAL ID Bill: Americans Pay For Washington`s Cowardice
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
Tagalog and Farsi and the concept of eternity is
So last week at the airport I was one of seven people
randomly selected for extra-special security
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."
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:
Which brings me to the REAL ID bill.
One: with the support of the Bush White House.
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
Carrying Capacity Network is against.)
(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
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
summary, the REAL ID Act will also:
security standards for the issuance of drivers`
proof of lawful
presence in the U.S.
all states must
comply, to eliminate weak links in domestic identity
security requirements to reduce
expires when an alien`s
(Proof of lawful
presence? I thought that was already a requirement.
Maybe the REAL stands for we really mean it this
U.S. citizens have to provide
Evidence of Lawful Status. That includes an
Has an approved
asylum in the United States or has entered into
the United States in
Has a valid,
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 or
approved application for
temporary protected status in the United States
deferred action status
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
bill contains no language suggesting that all states
must issue a license if an applicant meets the
a good thing, too.
Question One: Pending applications are
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
Sensenbrenner insists that the new program is strictly
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
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
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
read this to mean that the Secretary would
unilaterally set any standard or regulation he
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."
loophole which led to the 9/11 attacks, he said
Atta received a 6-month visa to stay in the U.S. yet
received a Florida driver`s license good for 6 years!"
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."
Because our government lacks the moral courage to (a)
racially profile to find terrorists and illegals,
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
Immigration enthusiasts say: But the backlogs are so
My compassionate womanly response: That`s the
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
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
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
Bryanna Bevens [email
her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff
for a member of the California State Assembly.