Oppose Funding for, and Seek Repeal of, the Real ID Act!

April 16, 2008

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Please immediately ask Congress to oppose any legislation that would provide funding, or in any other way lead to funding, for implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005. Many states are already on record refusing to implement the Act, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to resolve the technological and privacy infirmities within the Act. DHS’ failure to resolve these issues begs the question whether DHS is even fully committed to Real ID.

In fact, DHS seems to be in denial of the States’ revolt against this draconian measure:

Seven states – George, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington – have enacted binding legislation prohibiting participation in the Real ID program. Yet DHS sent each state a waiver, postponing required state action until the end of 2009, or possibly later.
• Eleven more states have received waivers after informing DHS they were still weighing their options, but could not now commit to implementing Real ID; and
Legislatures in other states, such as Alaska, Arizona, Idaho and Minnesota, are nearing final passage of legislation to prevent their states from implementing Real ID.

That’s twenty-two states that have outright refused, or have to-date refused, compliance with the Real ID Act.
The result of this unprecedented state rebellion is clear – this failed program does not merit further funding. In 2005, $40 million was appropriated to states for Real ID implementation. To date, of that amount, only $6 million has been provided in grants, and only $3 million was accepted by one state: Kentucky. New Hampshire wisely rejected an offer of federal funding, knowing that the acceptance of those funds would obligate New Hampshire to spend vast additional sums raised solely from new state taxes.

No further money was appropriated by Congress in 2006 or 2007, as cost estimates clearly show a staggering, largely unfunded mandate would be imposed on states if they agreed to implement the program.

A comprehensive analysis in 2006 revealed a cost to states of more than $11 billion over the first five years. A survey conducted by the National Governors Assoc., the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Assoc. of Motor Vehicle Administrators (http://www.ncsl.org/programs/press/2006/pr060921REALID.htm) showed “the cost of the changes to the driver’s licensing process are a one-time calculable expense of nearly $1 billion and ongoing costs of more than $10.1 billion for the first five-year enrollment period.” And those costs were in 2006 dollars; we all know the dollar has devalued significantly since 2006.

This report confirms claims that even substantial appropriations by Congress will be but drops in the bucket of the true monetary costs of the Real ID program. The bulk of the real financial burden will be borne by individuals – you and me – through new state taxes and increased license fees.

Implementation of Real ID will lead to:

• Substantially longer wait and service times at state DMVs;
• Increased fees for Real ID compliant licenses; and
• Increased delays, frustration and costs as people try to obtain the “source documents” needed to even obtain an updated license.

But of greatest concern is the cost to our freedom and security; the Real ID Act dangerously compromises both.

Imposing the United States’ first-ever national identity card, Real ID will dramatically change American life as we have known it. The day-to-day movements of law-abiding citizens will be constrained for the growing need for this “internal passport;” growing because if proposed expansions of the program are approved, you will soon be required to produce a Real ID card to vote and purchase medications. These requirements will then quickly snowball into the Real ID database becoming a de facto requirement for participation in all of American life.

Real ID greatly diminishes your security; it does not enhance it. Something as plausible as a simple mistake by your DMV could affect your ability to get a job, access your bank account, receive medical benefits, vote, or otherwise participate in civic life. And this intense concentration of all your personal information, including your source documents, in one database will exponentially increase the risk of both ID theft by sophisticated criminals and document fraud by terrorists.

If your Real ID contains imbedded personal data, whether in an RFID chip or magnetic stripe, that data will be available to anyone in possession of relatively inexpensive technological devices, and make your movements trackable by both the government and criminals.

Finally, DHS’ own Final Rule outlining the plan the states must follow to implement Real ID does not require even the first Real ID-compliant driver’s license to be issued until 2014, and does not require full implementation until 2017. So obviously, even DHS understands there is no critical and imminent security need for the Real ID. Accepting DHS’ ruling on its face, there is obviously no critical funding need, as DHS itself believes the program is not essential until the end of the next decade.

We are close to achieving the critical mass necessary to repeal this very dangerous program. Funding it now would be premature at best. Please take immediate action to curtail any further funding for this program and to seek repeal of the Real ID Act!

ACTION TO TAKE

Immediately contact your Congressman. Call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 225-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the House office you request.
• Tell him/her to oppose any legislation that would provide funding, or may lead to funding, for implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005.
• Tell him/her you also want the Real ID Act REPEALED!

Immediately contact your Senators. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.
• Tell them to oppose any legislation that would provide funding, or may lead to funding, for implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005.
• Tell them you also want the Real ID Act REPEALED!

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Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.