Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Get Real

One of the biggest unfunded mandates that's ever existed.

Is this a Republican criticism of the Thornton education plan?

No those are the words of House Judiciary Committee Chair, Joe Vallario, explaining his opposition to the Real ID Act.

Forget for a moment that the cost of Thornton by far exceeds implementing the Real ID Act. Thornton costs taxpayers $1.3 billion, Real ID would cost $150 million, and that is a high-end estimate. Joe Vallario voted for Thornton so I don’t know who he was trying to fool.

The Real ID Act is a set of federal guidelines states must follow to ensure the integrity of its driver’s licenses and identification cards. States following these guidelines would prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining state issued licenses or ID cards. Those with driver’s licenses or ID cards from non complying states would not be able to use them to enter federal buildings or board commercial air flights.

During the 2007 regular session Senator Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery County) and Delegate Henry Heller (D-Montgomery County) introduced bills, similar one passed by the Maine legislature opposing Real ID. Forehand argued that implementing Real ID would "invite theft of identity and invasion of privacy" and the act "will impose inconveniences and higher taxes on Marylanders with no attendant benefit such as protection from terrorism." Senator Forehand is under the illusion that the current system is immune from identity theft or that it prevents corruption of our voting process

Forehand has no legitimacy when it comes to concern for higher taxes on Marylanders. She voted for the good of her party and Martin O’Malley’s political career (and consequently her own) over the good of her constituents. Forehand folded under pressure from the governor and her party. She voted yes across the board on all tax increases. Forehand, like Vallario voted for Thornton as well.

Second, I’m not sure what she means by “no attendant benefit such as protection from terrorism.” Had federal guidelines like those contained in the Real ID Act been in place, they could have disrupted or thwarted the 9/11 attacks.

Hani Hanjour the terrorist who rammed flight 77 into the Pentagon, entered the United States on a student visa, then promptly violated the terms of the visa by not enrolling in school, hence he was an illegal immigrant. Hanjour obtained a Maryland ID card, a Virginia ID card, and an Arizona driver’s license. Maryland issued his ID card less than a week before the attacks. Hanjour and the other 9/11 hijackers obtained driver’s licenses and ID cards to avoid using their passports, some of which had terrorists indicators on them like Nawaf Al Hamzi. For example, an MSP Trooper stopped Ziad Jarrah for speeding in Cecil County just two days before the attacks. Jarrah, who might have crashed flight 93 into the capitol building if not for the heroic efforts of the passengers, could have been detained if he did not have Virginia driver’s license and was forced to show his passport.

According to a 9/11 Commission staff report the 19 hijackers obtained 16 state driver’s licenses (from Arizona, California, Florida and Virginia) and 14 state ID cards (from Florida, Maryland and Virginia) using 374 aliases among them.

Driver’s licenses and ID cards are the main form of identification used to register voters. As we all know, Maryland issues driver’s licenses and ID cards to illegal immigrants, and apparently Al Qaeda terrorists as well. With the current system in place, how can we be sure about the integrity of our electoral process? How do we know that illegal immigrants have not and are not voting in our elections? We don’t! Why? Because we have unscrupulous politicians who favor their own unfunded education mandate—that has only enriched the educrats and MSTA and done nothing to help students—over a sound law, that had it been in effect six years ago might have prevented the largest terrorist attack on American soil.

The original deadline for states to comply with Real ID was May 11, 2008. However, DHS has moved the deadline back to December 2009. The General Assembly has at least two regular sessions to comply with Real ID. The governor’s own transportation secretary John Porcari testified that the state must comply with Real ID. In the same testimony Porcari said that a two-tiered system might be an option. I don’t doubt it. Delegate Ann Sol Gutierrez an anti-slots Democrat sold her vote on the slots bill in return for an administration promise to get a two-tiered system passed in the legislature.

I am wary of a two-tiered system. Even though it would, in theory, prevent illegal immigrants from voting; why would illegals seek to obtain identification that for all intents and purposes marks them as illegal immigrants? While it would require Real ID licenses and ID cards to register to vote (one would hope), what about the drivers licenses already issued to illegals? Will they be accepted for voter registration? What about any illegal aliens who are already on the voter rolls? How will they be handled?

Straight implementation of Real ID would be the ideal policy. Admittedly implementation would be a significant cost, but as a conservative the outcomes of Real ID, (enhancing national security and ensuring the integrity of our electoral process) are two core functions of government. Furthermore, DHS has ruled states can use up to 20% of Homeland Security Grant Program funds to implement Real ID, so it is not an unfunded mandate.

Democrats can play the angle that a two-tiered system is less expensive and implementing Real ID will cost taxpayers more. That may be true, but this Democrat majority, who addressed a deficit by increasing spending, and voted for an unfunded mandate of their own, doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to looking out for the security of the taxpayers of Maryland.

crossposted on The Main Adversary

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Take the heavy-handed politics away, and there are still big problems with REAL ID.

Nobody knows what we are trying to accomplish with the REAL ID card. Even your post is somewhat confused. Are we trying to keep terrorists out of the US? Are we trying to keep illegal immigrants out? Are we trying to prevent voter fraud? Are we trying to make sure drivers know how to drive and are insured? Are we trying to make it fast and simple for retailers to determine whether the ID owner is old enough to smoke? To drink? All of the above? Something else?

Even if we can ever decide that, we then have two major problems: How do you design a program to address that issue or set of issues? How do we avoid unintended consequences?

Then there are tertiary issues: should it use a Social Security number, or some other number? Will the feds keep the master database, or will there be one in each jurisdiction? How will the data be tied together so each user gets the information they need, and nothing else? Will it replace your Social Security card, passport, military ID, and/or Medicare/Medicaid/Tricare card?

It seems unlikely that DHS will meet its current target of December 2009. These are the same issues that have repeatedly doomed prior efforts to create a national ID card.

The States will bear the cost of implementing the system. Despite the federal governments promises to pay, they won't. If they intended to do so, why not just establish a national identity card? They already do this with passports. Your surprise that State officials are resistant to this is dumbfounding.

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