Despite the Obama Administration’s lagging demeanor, the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 is gaining momentum. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) just released its second comprehensive assessment for securing driver's license standards and ensuring REAL ID becomes a reality in all 50 states.
The report concludes, by January 2013, at least 36 states will be in full compliance of REAL ID. So far, the remaining states have not announced when they would be in compliance with REAL ID.
"While the Department of Homeland Security lets REAL ID languish with a looming compliance deadline of Jan. 15, 2013, the states are pushing on with securing driver license issuance standards not because the feds or Congress seems to give a hoot, but because they realize that the DMV counter can be a defense against identity theft and fraud, the kind that terrorists, illegal aliens and criminals use to switch their identities to that of an unsuspecting American,” said Janice Kephart, a former 9/11 Commission counsel and National Security Policy Director at CIS.
“REAL ID is becoming a success because of the benefits it provides to protecting identity, catching fraud, improving customer service and supporting law enforcement. The law, despite the browbeating it has taken for years, is becoming a reality. But without DHS stepping up to the plate to support the states, and Congress ignoring next year's deadline, the states will only feel a greater divide between themselves and Washington as political campaigns heat up this year-- an issue already exacerbated by an administration willing to sue any state whose policies or laws it disagrees with,” she said.
The data compiled in this report notes that states see a real value in pursuing REAL ID standards because the improvements reduce identity theft and fraud, increase efficiencies, improve customer service, and support law enforcement. As a result, CIS found states are moving forward and paying for the improvements with their state tax dollars.
Specifics contained in this report include; overall compliance, 53 states and territories are embracing REAL ID or the technical tenets of REAL ID; 5 states have submitted REAL ID compliance packages to DHS with a total of 36 materially or substantially materially compliant now or likely will be by the REAL ID deadline of January 15, 2013.
At least 43 jurisdictions are issuing tamper-resistant cards;
51 are checking Social Security numbers and the remaining five are currently getting online; 47 are registered with DHS to check legal presence through the SAVE database.
Kephart also pointed out that the states contacted for the CIS study said they no longer have guidance or support from DHS when it comes to implementing REAL ID Act.
However, a recent trip to the border by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano highlighted the positive trends undertaken by DHS to shore up national security along the nation's borders.
“The men and women of CBP work hard every day to keep our borders safe while facilitating the trade and travel that are so essential to the economy of the Southwest region and the United States,” she said. “This administration has deployed unprecedented resources along the Southwest border and we continue to work closely with our partners at all levels—including other federal agencies, state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement, the private sector, and the government of Mexico—to secure our border.”
With the political climate heating up for the 2012 elections, the REAL ID legislation will certainly find a place on the national landscape.
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