How to Get REAL ID Through: Defang it!

by on November 2, 2007 · 0 comments

An ACLU release issued yesterday reports that the Department of Homeland Security is telling state leaders that it will not enforce the REAL ID law.

“In discussions I participated in with the Department of Homeland Security, they were asked point blank, ‘What will happen to states that don’t participate?’” said Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who was on the phone call with [DHS Assistant Secretary Richard] Barth. “The response was, ‘Nothing will happen. There will be no penalty. You can still get on a plane.’”

It’s hard to make out why the DHS is saying this and what it means. Most likely, Barth and the DHS are trying to shrink REAL ID down so far that they can convince a substantial number of states to announce compliance so they can claim a “successful program.” Later regulations could then grow it into the national ID it’s meant to be.

The fact that the REAL ID Act has no teeth, of course, means that states can refuse to comply entirely. There’s not even the (long known to be impotent) threat that their residents wouldn’t be able to get on planes.

Whatever the case, the program is in shambles. It would be cool if Congress were to go ahead and admit it, but nothing needs to happen for the last nail to go into REAL ID’s coffin.

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