Best way to fix Real ID is to repeal it -LA Times

Posted: July 18, 2009 in LA Times, PASS Act, Real ID Act of 2005, Real ID deadline

One question that neither the backers of Real ID nor of Pass ID have adequately answered is: If this law were in place before 9/11, would it have prevented the attacks? Given that terrorists would still be able to steal or forge identity documents, or even obtain them legally as many of the 9/11 hijackers did, the answer is almost certainly no. 

Tracking identity is a poor way to fend off terrorists; a better approach would be stronger measures to prevent them from smuggling weapons or explosives onto airplanes. Rather than trying to save Real ID with a less destructive bill, better to let it die of its fatal flaws. – LA Times


Legislation to create a federal ID card is an expensive, intrusive boondoggle that should be killed.

If you’re planning on using up those frequent-flier miles, you might want to make the trip before the end of the year. Unless Congress or the Obama administration takes action on a shortsighted national security law approved in response to the 9/11 attacks, the nation’s air travel system will get turbulent on Jan. 1, 2010.

With no debate, the Senate in 2005 approved the Real ID Act: H.R. 418: — which had been inserted into must-pass legislation authorizing funds for the Iraq war. That may have been the only way to get the deeply controversial law through the upper house, because of all the heightened security measures passed following 9/11, none will have as dramatic and intrusive an effect on the lives of everyday Americans as Real ID.

The law mandates a tamper-proof card that would become the only acceptable form of identification for federal purposes, such as boarding a commercial airliner or entering a federal building. It was clumsily drafted in a way that imposes multibillion-dollar expenses on state governments, enhances opportunities for identity theft, turns state motor vehicle departments into arms of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will almost certainly lead to harassment of immigrants, legal or otherwise. Though legislation has recently been introduced in Congress that would repair many of Real ID’s faults, it doesn’t go far enough. The best way to fix Real ID is to repeal it.

Real ID was a response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which called for federal standards for driver’s licenses and birth certificates. That’s because 18 of the 19 hijackers had state IDs, some of which were fraudulent and some of which should have expired because the terrorists had overstayed their visas.


Pass ID is an improvement, but it still imposes risks and burdens that outweigh its national security benefits. It mandates storage of identity documents by state officials and immigration checks at the DMV. It complicates efforts by some states to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, because such licenses would require special markings to signal that the bearer is here illegally. We don’t oppose sensible measures to enforce our immigration laws, but anything that discourages undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses — as Pass ID would — endangers all drivers on the road and raises insurance costs for everyone.


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