ACLU Calls on Pennsylvania to Join Nationwide Rebellion Against Real ID

March 07, 2007
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Statement of Larry Frankel, Legislative Director, ACLU of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – Last week the Department of Homeland Security released draft regulations for the implementation of the Real ID Act. Those regulations are nothing short of a man made disaster that poses new threats to Pennsylvania motorists who are still struggling to recover from this winter’s natural disasters.

The Real ID Act was a bad idea when Congress hastily passed it, without any hearings or debate, in 2005. The draft regulations only make it worse. For the average Pennsylvanian getting or renewing a driver’s license will involve significantly higher fees, frustratingly long lines at PennDOT’s licensing service centers, gigantic bureaucratic hassles, increased risks of identity theft, and inevitable violations of privacy.

We are not deceived by the announced 19 month delay in implementation of this federal mandate. The delay does not address the growing costs of implementation. The Department of Homeland Security now admits that the costs to the states could run as high as $14.6 billion and that individuals will have to pay an additional $7.8 billion.

The delay does not address the widespread fear that renewing one’s driver’s license will become a nightmare. Up to 240 million Americans will be forced to obtain new driver’s licenses by 2013. Drivers will be required to provide government issued documents as proof of address, date of birth and legal status. States will be prohibited from issuing or renewing a license until they confirm that all the documentation is accurate. The government must build new electronic databases that will become the target of choice for identity thieves.

All of this sounds like a recipe for a man made disaster that will leave thousands of Pennsylvanians stranded in lines while the bureaucrats attempt to untangle miles of red tape.

And we will face all of these problems with little evidence of any significant enhancement of our nation’s security. Terrorists have never been deterred by our bureaucracy or demands for photo identification. Americans, however, will enjoy few benefits from these new rules, especially in comparison to the losses in money, time and privacy they will face.

The ACLU calls on Pennsylvania to join the growing nationwide rebellion against Real ID. In January, the Maine legislature passed a resolution rejecting participation in the ID scheme. Similar legislation has been passed by one chamber in the legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. Bills rejecting Real ID have been introduced in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia.

It is high time for Pennsylvania to join these other states and protect the people of this commonwealth from this misguided federal mandate.

For more information about the Real ID Act, visit RealNightmare.org.

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