William Faulkner quite famously said, “I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it,” and believe me when I tell you that when it comes to Real ID’s here in the States, that statement couldn’t be more applicable to my own (lack of) position. I do understand that the states feel bullied into doing their jobs when issuing driver’s licenses and/or id cards, and I do sort of get that people are worried about their civil liberties (the right to get identification cards based on false information, for instance). Okay, you caught me, in all honesty, I don’t have a lack of position, I have no problem with Real ID’s nor with their supposed Big Brother implications.
Real ID’s for those of you who may not know–because a.) it may have gotten lost in the “Bush sucks” blather of the past three or so years, b.) it doesn’t affect you (yet), c.) it won’t affect you (ever) because you’re neither American nor a legal resident, or d.) it’s boring to some as it involves politics–anyway, Real ID’s are those identification cards that everyone was up in arms about in 2005 and calling “national id cards.” Remember? In short (very short), every citizen and legal resident of the United States of America must have either a driver’s license issued by their state (or commonwealth) that adheres to the Real ID Act’s national requirements or said individual must carry proof of citizenship, such as a passport, when traveling outside their state (or commonwealth) or into federal buildings. Sounds simple, huh? Well, not so much.
Dum dum dum! The witching hour of December 31, 2009 is creeping up, and it seems the good people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are trying to figure out what to do about it. Massachusetts has been sued for not making it easy or even (can it be? oh, the humanity!) denying illegal immigrants driver’s licenses (I can’t yet even google this story or blog it because it so inflames me). And now (gasp! horror!), the Commonwealth just doesn’t know how it can possibly cope with verifying name, address, and citizenship (via passport, birth certificate, social security number, etc. It’s not rocket science, after all. We can all prove we belong here–those of us who do, anyway); according to an article in the Boston Globe, Martha Coakley (Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) says it will cost an exorbitant amount of money to comply with this outlandish requirement (I’m thinking it must be the citizenship thing, right? I mean we already give our names and addresses and have our photo taken).
I mean, here we are asking the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to (and I quote) “verify the identity of people who apply for or renew driver licenses, starting next spring, and to make sure they are American citizens or US residents” (the Globe article, linked above). Verify their identity? Make sure they’re here legally and can therefore drive legally? Geez, whatever next? Cameras in my living room and kitchen linked to the FBI? Homeland Security doing weekly checks of my underwear drawer? Being followed by the feds when I go to the supermarket, having them document my purchases? Clearly, we are one step away from the government policing our very thoughts!
Give me a break! I am still so angry about the expensive (to taxpayers, er, those here legally. You know the ones, the ones who actually PAY taxes) lawsuit against Massachusetts for not granting some illegal alien a driver’s license that I can’t see straight. I thought you had to be a citizen or legal resident to get a driver’s license, wasn’t that part of the point, to make sure you’re legal to drive? Or are you legal to drive even if you aren’t in the country legally? How could that possibly be? Ugh! It seems, too, with the Real ID thing (if you live in a state/commonwealth that complies), if you don’t drive for whatever reason, you’ll still need to toddle off to the RMV and get an id card (maybe like the one pictured above).
States (and commonwealths) who do not comply to these rigorous standards of issuing driver’s licenses to people they’ve actually identified as the people being issued driver’s licenses/identification cards will suffer penalties. Not the least of which is that anyone from such a noncomplying state (or commonwealth) will need to travel with a passport via air (yes, even travel confined to within the borders of the good ole U. S. of A.) and even to enter federal buildings. I don’t see people embracing that, particularly with how backed up the passport agencies are trying to meet the standards set for them to correctly identify and verify name, address, citizenship of everyone being issued a passport. Whatever next? Will we expect the electric company to provide electricity to our entire homes? The garbage collectors to identify correctly and remove all our garbage?
So, anyway, I’ve clearly worked out exactly what I think of this Real ID thingumabob, huh? So much for Faulkner.