Real ID: Security for our Communities and our Nation
May 13, 2005
Last week, the Senate voted unanimously to approve an emergency supplemental appropriations package for defense, the war on terror, and tsunami relief. I was proud to support this legislation which included several specific components to increase the security of our borders and make our communities safer. The Real ID Act included in this bill cracks down on the ability of illegal aliens to obtain state issued identification, such as driver's licenses, and increases border security efforts.
We have learned a great deal since the attacks of September 11th including the need to increase border security to prevent terrorists from entering our country. Each year, the illegal immigrant population grows by 350,000. Studies have shown, between forty and fifty percent of the illegal aliens in the U.S. came on legal temporary visas but never returned home. As we have witnessed, terrorists have exploited the flaws in our immigration system, including border security, to inflict harm on our citizens and this is not acceptable.
The Real ID Act provides several provisions to increase the security of our borders as well as security within our borders. In addition to making it easier to obtain approval for the construction of barriers and roads along the borders, Real ID requires states to meet certain security standards in order for the driver's licenses and personal identification cards they issue to be more secure.
This is by no means a national ID card. Current loopholes and lax standards in the issuance process allow terrorists to obtain driver's licenses, often multiple licenses from multiple states, and abuse the license for identification purposes. Additionally, eleven states do not even require license applicants to provide proof of legal presence. The Real ID Act simply provides uniform requirements for states when issuing one of the most commonly used forms of identification. Driver's licenses confirm our identity when boarding commercial airplanes, visiting government buildings and vulnerable facilities, or purchasing a firearm. It is alarming that the most widely accepted form of identification in our country is so easily obtained by illegal immigrants and terrorists. The Real ID Act reestablishes the integrity of our state driver's license and identification system.
The Real ID Act will require applicants to provide proof that they are in the country legally and require identity documents to expire at the same time their lawful entry status expires, preventing those who remain illegally in the U.S. from having valid documentation.
Illegal immigration penalizes those legal immigrants and citizens who follow the rules and compromises the security of our nation. The Real ID Act provides sensible requirements for states to verify citizenship or temporary visitation status when issuing driver's licenses that will strengthen the integrity of our communities and our country.