States Rev Up for Real ID
by IMMIGRATION NEWS UPDATE
February 16, 2012
Congressional Quarterly: States Rev Up for Real ID (Requires a CQ.com subscription, article is pasted below) When Congress passed the Real ID bill in the spring of 2005, requiring a uniform national standard for driver’s licenses, nearly half of state governments balked at complying.
State and Local Update:
The Columbian: Cities Use E-Verify While State Considers Banning It More than two years ago, Clark County became the first in the state to mandate that its contractors use the federal E-Verify program, in an attempt to ensure taxpayer dollars employed legal workers on public works projects. Since then, three counties and 11 cities, including five in this county, have followed Clark County’s lead. OaNow.com (Alabama): Homeland Security Director Urges E-Verify Compliance Alabama Department of Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier has reiterated his support to the business community regarding the E-Verify program and the department’s commitment to facilitate compliance to Alabama’s immigration law. The E-Verify requirement is not retroactive and only pertains to new hires.
My San Antonio: Texas on the Potomac Immigration is the hottest of hot-button issues, if a panel today at the Conservative Political Action Conference is any indication.
Hearings and Events:
Wednesday February 15th
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
"Safeguarding the Integrity of the Immigration Benefits Adjudication Process"
2141 RHOB 2 p.m.
States Rev Up For Real ID
By Shawn Zeller, CQ Staff
When Congress passed the Real ID bill in the spring of 2005, requiring a uniform national standard for driver’s licenses, nearly half of state governments balked at complying.
Drafted at the recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, the legislation was intended to keep driver’s licenses out of the hands of illegal immigrants and to make it more difficult for foreign terrorists to travel in the country. Reluctant states argued that the law was a massive unfunded mandate because it required them to make rigorous residency and identity checks for those seeking licenses. They thought the three-year deadline for compliance was too short, and some conservatives said a uniform license amounted to a national ID card with a subsequent loss of privacy.
But seven years later, after several extensions of the implementation deadlines, the states are coming around. Even some of those dozen or so that continue to have laws on the books refusing to comply are, in fact, moving to comply. And House and Senate bills to repeal the Real ID law that the states lobbied for in 2009 and 2010 never reached the floor, nor have they been reintroduced in this Congress.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says it’s not trying to get repeal legislation reintroduced and instead is focusing its efforts on changing the Homeland Security Department’s implementing regulations in order to allow states to save face by complying with the law without admitting they’re doing so. The conference of state legislatures also would like to secure more flexibility in how and when the new licenses are issued.
“If legislation isn’t an option, the only other alternative is that the department open back up the regulations to make some additional changes that make it easier for all states to come into compliance,” says Molly Ramsdell, a senior policy director at the conference of state legislatures.
Ramsdell says the new secure licenses are going to cost states $3.9 billion and that the federal government has provided no more than $200 million in assistance. She says the state legislatures support further extensions to the current Jan. 15, 2013, compliance deadline as well as more flexibility in how states use federal funds so they can cover more of the Real ID costs with existing federal grants. Last March, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who strongly opposed Real ID in her previous job as governor of Arizona, extended the states’ compliance deadline and she could do so again.
The penalties would be unpleasant for residents of states that didn’t comply with the law by adopting more-secure licenses: They could not use their state licenses as federal identification, such as when boarding an airline flight.
On the other side of the table from the states, supporters of the Real ID law are trying to ensure that the most recent extension for compliance was the last.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing in October 2011, Republican F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the driving force behind the Real ID law, told Napolitano that the repeal legislation was dead and asked her if she would stick to the 2013 deadline. Napolitano demurred, but said she would work with the states to get them into compliance.