Real ID Act of 2005 – Yesterdays Law, Today’s Problem

By David P Shirk

                  A third of the people seem to be indifferent to the laws and simply think of them as a mere annoyance. These people mostly accept the idea of laws as a necessary evil. Another third wholeheartedly support the laws, and constantly seek to make new ones to fit their idea of how the world should be. The last third are people who are sick of the restrictive laws as their daily lives continue to get more and more difficult to live in a legal manner. Depending on how observant and researched the people are typically determines which side they take.
                  An example of this is found in an act of legislation called the REAL ID ACT of 2005. Originally passed through congress as HR 418, it never made it past the Committee on the Judiciary. So it was merely scaled down, placed into the more popular HR 1268 under division II, and viola – it became the law.
                Under Title I of the law, it removed exclusive power from the Attorney General in regards to granting asylum, and granted joint power to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Then later in section 102 it lists that exceptions can be made when it comes to an immigrant’s legal status on a district court level if the case is convincing enough. In short – allows the court to make exceptions as to who can be made legal at the local judiciary level coupled with approval from the DHS or attorney general. This portion of the Real ID act was intended to ensure that the immigrants in question be granted legal status without compromising national security. However this greatly increases the size and scope of the governing bureaucracy, and in turn compromises anything from civil rights to government control (which I will get into later).
                  Title II of the law is Improved Security For Drivers’ Licenses and Personal ID Cards. Though the content is superbly written (as far as legislative acts go), it is nonetheless a poorly thought out law. It states that no federal agency or federally controlled area will accept a non-compliant ID card or drivers’ license as issued by the state, as proof of identification. It then gives the non-compliant states until 2010 to become compliant. The requirements needed on an individual level to meet this requirement include signature, photo ID, proof of residence in your name, social security card, and birth certificate. The minimum requirements on the state to meet the federal standards are the individuals legal name, DOB, address, gender, DL or ID number, digital photograph, tamper resistant cards, and finally the document containing such information must be machine readable. Unless these requirements are met, you cannot fly either.
                   On the surface all this sounds innocent enough- a pain to comply with, but still innocent. Yet with the right printer and the right paper, the only thing that cannot be truly counterfeited is a code on your card used when read by a scanner. As this catches on, even more restrictive measures will be put in place. If you doubt this, then ask yourself why this law was enacted – because someone found a way around the original. The problem with security is that the bigger and more restrictive you make it, the more vulnerability it will have, and the more people will get rightfully angry at the ever increasing loss or productive time needed to comply with it.


Bike, Hike & Climb - It's Time

                    Let us not forget the cost. When this bill was passed in 2005, they claimed it would only cost a measly dollar per citizen to implement by no later than 2010. First they had to hire someone who could install the electronic equipment. Then they had to pay for the equipment and the additional supplies needed to run it. Then they had to hire people (who are in theory) qualified to assess the presented documents for authenticity. This cost ended up being more than a mere dollar per individual, and if that is not the case, then I wonder why the prices of licensing have gone up. This is not just me talking but also the National Governors Association, the American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators, and the National Conference of State Legislators as well. In 2006 they were already projecting a short term cost and resource increase of over 100%.
                   So not only has the cost of this program greatly increased along with all the lost time spent in implementing and obeying it, but it has caused a series of other issues that were not expected at the time such as lost paperwork, no current proof of residence due to living areas or conditions, and just misplaced paperwork. And because of the facial recognition software used by the digital scanners – you cannot even smile at the irony.
                   Finally, has security really improved at all? If security continues to improve at great cost, loss of production, and the steady degrading of civil liberties, then what is it defending us from? From terrorists that only attack us because we invaded their land and told them how to live? Instead of ending the costly war combating them in their native country, we increase the cost by continuing the war while at the same time forcing hardships on us here at home? That’s not what freedom is about folks.
                  So for those of you out there who support nonsense like this, I have to know why? It does not make you more secure. It does not increase your wealth. It does not preserve your way of life. Sure it sounds good on paper (until you read the fine print). Sure your probably being told that it will help keep out the illegal’s. Yet it has never worked for the simple reason that it merely encourages underground activities, creates new ways to defeat the technology that is needed to run it, provides a challenge to those just looking to see what trouble they can make, and creates an even bigger security threat. Worst of all, it ensures that every move you make (quite literally) is tracked by a government who has no idea how to run itself, much less how to run you. Hitler would have been impressed.
                    I will end by saying that it is a shame how these laws come into play. Not having enough merit to pass on their own reasoning, they are always thrown into a larger more popular bill, and set to be slowly implemented in hopes that no one will notice. Unfortunately this is a common tactic that works all too well. Small wonder why we are buried in a crippling national debt. The cost is spread through other legal avenues so that direct income taxes do not vary as much. But make no mistake, it is money that you have to pay the government to fund its mandates, therefore, is a tax. So if we do not step up to the plate and put an end to this coercive nonsense, we will be run down by it.

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0 Responses to Real ID Act of 2005 – Yesterdays Law, Today’s Problem

  1. Michelle Barilleaux Wilson May 26, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Another fantastic blog, David. I appreciate how you detail the genesis of the problem, and then progress to how it has changed, or will change, our furture. Don't stop writing! You're amazing!

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