Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Driver's License

NYT reported Congress is moving quickly toward setting strict rules on how states issue driver's licenses, requiring them to verify whether each applicant for a new license or a renewal is in this country legally. A House and Senate conference now taking place has included the requirements, which apply to all 50 states and other jurisdictions that issue licenses, in a supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq, aides involved in the process said on Monday. The draft legislation will be completed in the next few days and is all but certain to pass. State officials complain that the new requirements will add a costly, complicated burden to the issuance of driver's licenses, which has been their responsibility for almost a century. Civil rights organizations and privacy advocates say that they are concerned that a standardized driver's license would amount to a national identification card and that a central database would be vulnerable to identify theft. The proposed regulations, intended to deter terrorist attacks, would replace a provision of the intelligence bill passed in December that called on state and federal agencies to develop new rules for licenses. That law did not specifically require states to check the citizenship or immigration status of applicants. Eleven states now grant driver's licenses to noncitizens who do not have visas. There is no reliable estimate of how many licenses have been issued to noncitizens, whether in the country legally or illegally.

I hope it passes. Normally I am in favor of States Rights, but this is important for national security.

Hugh Hewitt blogged "Eleven states now grant driver's licenses to noncitizens who do not have visas." How stupid can a state be?

McQ blogged I've always been of the opinion that driver's licenses were the perview of the state. I also tend to side with those who say that a standardized driver's license would be tantamount to a National ID (especially if it has a national central database). On the other hand, I think it is incumbent upon the states to ensure that those applying for a license are in this country legally and entitled to the make application. This is the dilemma I talk about in my article in this issue of "The New Libertarian" about immigration and security. The tendency to go too far in the name of security such that it begins to impact our liberty. This smacks of just such a stretch. While it is important that the states ensure that they aren't issuing driver's licenses to those who aren't entitled by law to have them, its just and important that the federal government stay out of areas the properly belong to the states.

Cori Dauber: blogged About Damn Time A national id is, for reasons that pass understanding, politically impossible in this country. The fact is that we have a de facto national id, it's simply a bad one -- driver's licenses. The 9/11 Commission called for standardization of these cards, and so far they've been basically ignored. You will recall that requirements for standardizing them (involving whether citizenship was a requirement, a huge debate) held up the intelligence bill for quite some time, until a deal was brokered, a deal that depended upon this issue being brought up and brought up quickly. Payback time. The proposed new rules will require states to determine whether all applicants (including those renewing licenses) are in this country legally.

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged I would think that a determined, well-financed terrorist could probably come up with a forged birth certificate. I am not one to freak out over national ID cards, but this is a patchwork approach that reeks of a TSA-like measure.

James Joyner blogged It's stunning to me that states aren't already doing this, since a driver's license is a de facto "national" ID now. Further, since the passage of Motor Voter, anyone can register to vote when they get their drivers' license, effectively giving suffrage to illegal aliens and others who should not be eligible. Of course, since many states don't require picture ID to vote--for fear of intimidating voters who are afraid of plastic--it's somewhat of a moot point.

I favor this, and I would be happy to see it become a national id card that had biometrics on it, but did not allow citizens to be tracked, but was impossible to forge, and was required to vote. I also favor visitors getting a card that showed they were not a citizen, that showed how long they could be in the country, that could be tracked if they overstayed their visas.

No comments: