California Helps Illegal Immigrants Skirt Federal ID Law
JUNE 08, 2009
The nation’s most populous state is on the verge of passing a law to give special driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who won’t meet the security standards under a federal measure designed to protect the country from terrorists.
By 2011 all states must verify the authenticity of every driver’s license applicant by confirming that documents—such as a birth certificate or passport—submitted to get the card are legitimate and that the applicant is in the United States legally.
California legislators plan to accommodate illegal immigrants who don’t meet the identification requirements for the new federally approved licenses by issuing special cards. Recently passed by the California Senate and heading to the Assembly, the measure allows illegal aliens to still get a driving-only license with a clear mark indicating that it does not meet the federal law.
The Democratic lawmaker (Gilbert Cedillo) who authored the bill—dubbed California Real ID after its federal counterpart—says it’s a pragmatic policy that will ensure all drivers are trained and licensed therefore making state roads and highways safer. Cedillo also claims that all of the state’s public safety and law enforcement agencies support his plan even though it contradicts the federal mandate.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 to protect national security by establishing standardized driver’s licenses nationwide that will be less prone to fraud and will prevent terrorists from abusing them as did several of the September 11 hijackers.
A newly created federal database will link all licensing data and states must check it before issuing a license to assure that the applicant has not been banned from driving in another state. Residents of states that don’t comply with the law will be greatly inconvenienced because their driver’s licenses will not be accepted as proof of identification at airports, federal buildings or when applying for any sort of federal benefits.
So far, Utah is the only state that has a two-tiered system that issues illegal immigrants special driver’s licenses. Wisconsin is set to become the second to offer illegal aliens the perk with a provision in the state budget that must still be approved by the legislature and governor. California, a renowned sanctuary state, could soon become the third.
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