Feds - National ID


Well-Known Member
May 2, 2007
Dallas, Texas
Feds look at ID for entry

Star-Tribune correspondent

It's May 12, 2008. A Casper resident is headed for the Dick Cheney Federal Building. Someone else is headed to Natrona County International Airport to catch a flight. And perhaps a Jackson Hole school bus is headed for Yellowstone National Park on a field trip.

What document, if any, do citizens or students have to present to gain entry?

If you answered a federal Real ID or a U.S. passport, go to the head of the line. Americans may need those documents for all future “federal purposes,” such as walk into a federal building, boarding a plane or entering a national park, after May 11, 2008, according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who spoke to the National Conference of State Legislatures earlier this month in Boston.

State Sen. Jayne Mockler, D-Cheyenne, was in the audience and heard Chertoff speak.

“It wasn’t a substantive discussion,” she said. “It was more of a ‘here it is’ statement.”

Mockler complained that the secretary answered few questions and left before legislators could ask him about a variety of national security and federal emergency preparedness issues.

Essentially, the national ID program is an unfunded mandate, Mockler said.

Rep. Floyd Esquibel, D-Cheyenne, was prime sponsor of a resolution against the Real ID program last year. It passed in the House 49-11, but was bottled up and died in the Senate.

Esquibel said Wyoming has spent millions to upgrade its driver’s license program to be one of the most secure in the nation. He isn’t sure it makes sense to drop that progress for an entirely new system.

“I don’t think any state will be ready by next May,” he said.

Federal legislation enacting the Real ID program was signed in 2005 as an emergency military spending and tsunami relief bill, which is supposed to create a national identification system by May 11, 2008. The Real ID Act defines such things as security features that must be incorporated into each card, verification of information provided by applicants to establish their identity and lawful status in the United States, and physical security standards for locations where licenses and identification cards are issued.

Because states may have difficulty complying before the May 11, 2008, deadline, the Department of Homeland Security will grant an extension of the compliance deadline until Dec. 31, 2009. States that have received extensions will, over the course of the waiver period, submit proposed timetables for compliance. Because few, if any states are predicted to meet that May 11, 2008, deadline, the practical deadline may well be Jan. 1, 2010.

Wyoming view

According to Jim O’Connor, a Wyoming Department of Transportation official who oversees programs including driver services, Wyoming’s predicted cost is $4.1 million. Nationally, the cost is predicted to be $23 billion. The National Conference of State Legislatures is on record demanding that Congress come up with $1 billion by the end of the year for startup expenses, or drop the ID program.

Just last month, there was a bill in the U.S. Senate to provide $300 million for the program, but that bill was killed. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., voted to keep Real ID funding out of the immigration bill because he has always regarded it as an unfunded mandate.

O’Connor said he hasn’t asked his staff to start working on rules and regulations for the Wyoming program, because federal officials have yet to issue their own final rules and regulations -- with deadlines to do so coming and going.

Based on draft Homeland Security documents, O’Connor predicts that a Wyoming version of Real ID will require:

* Two forms of verifiable ID, such as an original birth certificate and wedding license.

* WYDOT verification of those documents with local governments and hospitals.

* Two bills to verify address or occupancy of an address.

* Color-copying of documents which must then be digitally stored.

* In-person renewal of state driver’s licenses, which would no longer be done through the mail.

“Wyoming has always made its own driver’s licenses, but we won’t be able to do so in the future. The kind of equipment needed is just too expensive,” O’Connor said.

He also said that while a new passport will get a resident on a plane, it will not suffice for other Real ID requirements. The State Department expects half of all Americans will have passports in four years, which will represent a huge boost in applications to satisfy new security rules. Yet there have been massive delays in processing passports.

“I myself am adopted,” O’Connor said. “What kinds of documents am I supposed to come up with? Until the DHS comes up with final rules, even I can’t answer that question.”

Parks uninformed

Jerry Gaumer, deputy director of communications for the National Park Service, said he’s not sure how Yellowstone, for example, or any other unit of the Park Service would handle the Real ID program.

“We’ve received no guidance from DHS, and this is the first I’ve heard of it,” Gaumer said.

Rangers don’t currently check IDs at entrances to parks, he said. “And some of our areas are not fee-based,” he added.

Al Nash, spokesman for Yellowstone National Park, said a busy summer day means as many as 25,000 to 30,000 new visitors.

Dueling concerns

The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern that the Real IDs will eventually become internal passports, allowing the government to track people’s movements in buildings and public transportation systems.

Linda Burt, director of the Wyoming ACLU, said she believes this federal mandate is “very unrealistic” and could be even more problematic than the security-upgraded passport system.

“I’m trying to renew my passport, and the system is backlogged over two and a half months,” Burt said.

Yet James Carafano, a senior fellow of the conservative Heritage Foundation, testified before Congress in May, denying that the Real ID constitutes a national ID card.

He emphasized “that when key identification materials, such as driver's licenses (and the documents used to obtain them, such as birth certificates) are issued at any level of government and used for a federal purpose (such as security checks before boarding commercial passenger planes), these documents must meet national standards of authenticity. Such documents should only be issued to persons lawfully living in the United States.”