Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Facts on ID Security


Due to misrepresentations about the REAL ID act during Congressional debate over the bill (H.R. 418), several members of Congress including Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) released "Dear Colleague" letters rebutting the claims made about the bill.

FAIR is reposting two of those letters so that our members can get a better perspective on what the bill actually does and does not do.


February 9, 2005

Dear Colleague:

Don't believe the hype - HR 418 does not establish a national ID, it does not invade individuals' privacy rights, and it is absolutely Congress's prerogative to address this issue of vital interest to our country's national security.

Support H.R. 418. Support meaningful reform.


Tom Davis (R-VA)
Government Reform Committee

Candice Miller (R-MI)
Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs
Government Reform Committee

Mark Souder (R-IN)
Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources
Government Reform Committee

FICTION: This is an attempt to establish a "National ID."

FACT: We are not proposing that the federal government create or issue a national ID card. There is no need to build an expensive new bureaucracy when State DMVs are already in place with the infrastructure to securely issue driver's licenses. Under this legislation, States would still issue driver's licenses and identification cards, and would control their own driver database.

We must, however, take steps to secure our nation's primary means of identification. In fulfilling our security responsibilities to the American people, the federal government needs documents it can trust, and it is perfectly within its right to establish minimum standards for federal acceptance. Just as the States expect the federal government to issue trustworthy, verifiable documents they can use for identification purposes, this legislation sets forth the federal government's expectation that the States do the same. This is not preemption; this is cooperation and common sense. We must have minimum standards of identity security, regardless of who issues the document.

FICTION: This legislation creates a national database and is a threat to privacy.

FACT: This is not true. Under the legislation, States will retain control of the issuance process as well as their driver databases. Importantly, the legislation would enable all States to share information contained in their database with other States requesting such information, in order to close the current loophole in the issuance process that allows individuals to carry driver's licenses from multiple States.

If anything, a more secure document and issuance process will only serve to enhance privacy. After all, the greatest threat to your privacy is that someone will steal your identity and gain access to all your personal resources and data.

FICTION: This legislation is completely unnecessary - States have taken sufficient action.

FACT: The 9/11 Commission specifically recommends this action we are taking. On page 390 of the Report, the Commission states, "Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. Fraud in identity documents is no longer just a problem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists."

FICTION: This proposal involves an unprecedented preemption of state authority regarding the issuance and production of driver's licenses and birth certificates.

FACT: We are not preempting state authority in this area. What we are doing is establishing minimum standards for federal acceptance of such documents. This is actually consistent with actions taken by individual states to date. For example, the State of Nevada does not accept, as proof of identity, a state-issued driver license or identification card from states that do not meet their own standards (23 states and the District of Columbia).

FICTION: This legislation would be detrimental to road safety by preventing States from issuing licenses to illegal aliens.

FACT: Nothing in our legislation would prevent a State from issuing a license allowing an individual to operate a motor vehicle. In fact, the legislation provides the authority for States to do so, which today is under challenge in State courts, such as in Iowa. What this legislation does, however, is to ensure that licenses and cards that do not meet the federal standard, will not be accepted as proof of an individual's identity for federal purposes, such as boarding an airplane.

FICTION: This is just another unfunded federal mandate that we are heaping upon the States. In addition, the States do not have the resources to accomplish the requirements set forth in this legislation.

FACT: The language provides for grant programs to the States to assist in implementing the minimum standards that are established for federal recognition. The legislation authorizes "such funds as may be necessary" to fulfill these requirements, and a collaborative process is established to make sure we meet this important goal.

February 10, 2005

Support H.R. 418. Strengthen the Security of State Driver's Licenses and ID Cards.

Dear Colleague:

Hysteria and distortions, fueled by the deliberate misrepresentations of the advocates of illegal immigration, have introduced confusion into the debate on H.R. 418. This debate is not about a national ID card, because HR 418 does not create one. READ THE REAL ID Act - it's just not in there!!

HR 418 absolutely does not establish a national ID, it prevents one from becoming necessary.

HR 418 does not invade individuals' privacy rights, it requires new privacy measures by the states to protect the privacy of data, and to compel states to protect identities from theft and fraud.

HR 418 does not create a national database - instead it compels the states to improve the data security of information states already capture about their citizens, and requires the states to improve the physical security of the buildings where data is stored.

HR 418 does not threaten gun owners or legal immigrants, but it does require security checks on the state personnel who manage the process to stop the fraudulent sale of driver's licenses and state ID cards to people who should not have them.

Terrorists, crooks, frauds, and illegal aliens are threatened by HR 418, but the safety of law abiding American citizens will be strengthened and the risk of a new attack by foreign terrorists will be reduced. It is absolutely Congress's responsibility to take on this tough issue in the face of the amazing fantasies conjured up by the opposition. Unfortunately, some grass roots organization have been mislead by advocates for illegal aliens.

FALSEHOOD: HR 418 creates a "National ID."

TRUTH: HR 418 does not authorize the federal government to issue a national ID card. It does set a new minimum standard for physical and identity security that states must meet within three years. Many states already meet most of these standards, but there is a handful of states that continue to have such low standards that they are a magnet for foreign terrorists, criminals, home grown identity thieves and illegal aliens. HR 418 will compel these states to clean up their act.

FALSEHOOD: "The breadth of opposition to H.R. 418 is simply astounding."

TRUTH: The people beyond the smear attack on HR 418 are the same left wing liberal caucus that opposes any internal enforcement of the immigration laws. Surveys show that 80% of the American people support meaningful reforms to driver's licenses. The American public "gets it," and the House leadership which is known and respected for it's conservative values is leading this effort to meet our responsibilities to protect the American people. President Bush sent a letter to the floor yesterday, February 9, in support of this bill, in which he reinforced the federal government's need to join with the states to establish minimum standards for identity security.

FALSEHOOD: This legislation creates a national database.

TRUTH: This is not just wrong - it's a conscious distortion. HR 418 will set up a process to enable all States to use an existing Department of Transportation communication system to confirm that driver's licenses presented are genuine and validly issued to the person who is carrying them. This will close the current loophole in the issuance process that allowed most of the 9/11 terrorists s individuals to carry state issued ID cards and driver's licenses from multiple States.



Committee on the Judiciary

Subcommittee on Immigration, Claims and Border Security
Committee on the Judiciary
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