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February 29, 2012

Opsommer: Real ID implementation report shows major portions of law no longer needed

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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Paul Opsommer

Michigan State Representative and House Transportation Chair Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) said that a recent report put out by the Center for Immigration Studies, titled the ‘REAL ID Implementation Annual Report’, misrepresents the notion of ‘compliance’ and actually makes the case that the federal law that would turn driver’s licenses into national ID cards is not needed.

“We do not see ‘tremendous value’ in pursuing ‘REAL ID standards’ as this report attempts to assert,” said Opsommer. “These are state policy positions we are pursuing on our own, irrespective of REAL ID.”

Before REAL ID was passed in Washington by dubious methods, there was already a negotiated rule making process going on with the states to make sure they were not giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, and that licenses were made out of tamper-resistant materials from secure card production facilities.

“REAL ID not only repealed that process, but did so in a way that creates a national ID card that puts unelected federal bureaucrats permanently in charge of wireless computer chip, facial recognition technology, fingerprint, and foreign data sharing decisions,” said Opsommer.  “For cheerleaders of this national ID card campaign to highlight that states continue to pursue secure standards on their own, even in those states that have not authorized REAL ID or have passed laws opposing it, as somehow indicative of mass acceptance or compliance is nothing more than a public relations gambit.”

“The things we have done in Michigan, like making sure illegal aliens cannot get driver’s licenses, we are doing independently of REAL ID, and we are not interested in allowing the federal government to have permanent control over our licenses,” said Opsommer.  “You can bet your bottom dollar that at some point if Obamacare is not repealed that the federal government will adopt new rules in the future requiring the cards’ use for access to healthcare.  You can bet they will require it to buy a firearm.  You can bet they ultimately want to put RFID chips into all these and share our full data with Canada, Mexico, and beyond.  If we don’t repeal Title II of the REAL ID Act, all we are doing is putting off the ‘I told you so’ moment for a few years down the road.”

Opsommer said the report was also misleading, as DHS is certifying some states as REAL ID compliant even if they have not met some of the more controversial benchmarks.

“No state could reach all of the 39 benchmarks today even if they wanted to, but rather than repealing the most egregious sections DHS continues to try to put those states into fictitious compliance for public relations purposes,” said Opsommer.  “For those states that are issuing these cards with a national ID ‘gold star’ designation on them, they’ll be facing a reality check in the future when DHS demands ever more of them in order to be able to keep a ‘gold star’ that will become an ever moving target. Once every person in their state has one, the pressure to continue to go along with the program will be enormous.  And state officials will shrug their shoulders and say that there is nothing they can do about it, that it is a federal requirement.  That is how you know this is a national ID card.  There is no finite negotiated rulemaking process taking place here.  This is a permanent federal takeover.”

Opsommer said that DHS’s ploy of granting ‘gold star’ national designation to states that are not fully compliant  with all 39 requirements called for under the REAL ID Act will also create a situation where another state that does not have a gold star may in fact have a more secure license.

“It would be interesting to see the bureaucrats in Washington try to explain why one card is acceptable and another one is not when the card that’s more secure doesn’t have the national ‘gold star’ on it,” said Opsommer.  “It’s going to be like a scene out of the movie ‘Sneetches on the Beaches’, only it will be future DHS administrations that will be determining  where the gold stars go and how they’re removed instead of Mr. McBean”.

Opsommer said that any report that attempts to put the state of Michigan into a REAL ID ‘win column’ doesn’t understand the difference between meeting standards that states are setting irrespective of REAL ID, and not a desire to comply with the REAL ID Act itself.

“If you’re a state that is officially authorizing REAL ID, you are essentially agreeing to put the federal government and foreign standards from AAMVA and the ICAO permanently in charge of your licenses,” said Opsommer.  “You are essentially letting the federal government outsource national ID cards onto the states, creating a national ID card in 50 different flavors.  Don’t let the fancy pictures of different state capitols or scenic vistas on each state’s card fool you.  Each different state name across the top will be nothing more than a fancy looking data field on a national ID card”.

To add insult to injury, Opsommer said the fact that Michigan has an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) doesn’t have anything to do with REAL ID but is for some reason listed in the CIS report.

“Unless the goal was to make it look like more states were on board, or if the real intention for EDLs is as a ‘plan B’ to REAL ID, there is no reason for that to be there,” said Ospommer.  “If anything, Michigan continues to be in disagreement with the Department of Homeland Security over what they are requiring with these cards now that we have them. For any other state  considering Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, and it is my understanding that DHS is now doing presentations to states that aren’t even on an international border, I would tell you that we have a lot of buyer’s remorse here in Michigan between what was promised and what we got.  For example, I am now learning that they want to be able to use the wireless chips on these cards so that they can create unmanned checkpoints along the southern border. Considering the intent of the EDL rollout is not just for the United States but also for Canadian and Mexican citizens, I don’t want us playing any part in such an unmanned system”.

Opsommer also said that it made sense to keep state and federal documents largely separate.

“State documents should be state documents, and federal documents should be federal documents,” said Opsommer.  “If the federal government is bent on having a national ID card, they need to get their own house in order and start to make federal passports more secure and more affordable.  Quit trying to outsource your own mismanagement of the federal passport system onto the states and let us get onto the business of issuing our own safe and secure sovereign driver’s licenses.  We can and will do that without ceding control to REAL ID, AAMVA, the United Nations, or other international standards.”

Opsommer said for example that Michigan does not fingerprint people in order to get a driver’s license or enroll them into domestic or international facial recognition databases.  He said he doesn’t see that changing, and doesn’t know why it’s a category listed in the CIS report unless DHS is contemplating adding the requirement in additional REAL ID rulemaking processes in the future.

“Michigan does not use facial recognition tracking technology or treat its citizens like criminals by fingerprinting them just to exercise their right to drive a car,” said Opsommer.  “I don’t see us changing in that regard no matter what pressure they put on us.”

Opsommer summed up by saying that if Michigan is in any way indicative of many of the other states listed in the report, that it would be a major misrepresentation for anyone to use the report as showing broad support or an intent to authorize the REAL ID Act across the country.

“We need to cut to the chase and codify some of the best practices that, as this very report shows, the states are already doing  and have largely adopted anyways,” said Opsommer. “And then that’s it, repeal Title II of the failed REAL ID Act and all of its national ID implications in future rulemaking processes. Give us $50 full federal passports and get your own house in order, and this issue can be resolved and we can finally move on. This gigantic game of bluff that the federal government does before every false deadline is eating up too much time and resources, time and resources we could be putting into things that could truly help our country and its citizens”.

Source:  News release from state Representative Paul Opsommer


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