Another bill passed years ago has come back to haunt Capitol Hill. Eager to demonstrate its anti-terrorism stance after the September 11 attacks, Congress passed 2005’s Real ID Act as part of H.R. 1268, a messy spending juggernaut that paid for everything from global anti-terrorism efforts to tsunami relief to military death benefits.
2005 was a long time ago. Democratic immigration policy quashed state “show your papers” laws and decried enforcement efforts for being anti-immigration, turning the Real ID Act into another embarrassment for Congress.
Why are we deciding between anti-immigration and anti-terrorism policies?
While lawmakers scared Americans and cost us money with their fiscal cliff antics, Homeland Security again extended the compliance deadline for the Real ID Act, scheduled to kick in on January 15, 2013. Citing the lack of preparedness of 37 states to meet Real ID requirements, DHS issued the latest stay while talking about implementing the bill in a “measured, fair, and responsible way.”,¹ a tone uncomfortably close to how the agency talks about permissive federal immigration policy. None of the states ready to cope with the act’s provisions issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. California and Illinois are conspicuously absent from the list of Real ID Act compliers.
Congress passed the Real ID Act in part to ensure that immigration policy did not conflict with anti-terrorism initiatives. Given the insistence by amnesty-loving Democrats that we ignore immigration status out of fear that federal policies will be labeled anti-immigration or anti-immigrant, moves to counter identity fraud appear to be destined for the legislative trash heap.
ICE continues identity theft and document mill crackdowns.
Homeland Security admits that identity fraud is something we need to protect against:
Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be.²
Every month ICE adds to its list of identity theft enforcement successes and document mill seizures (see: Voter ID Fraud Denied by Democrats as Identity Mills Thrive), including a recent announcement of a California prosecution after close to $2 million in phony IDs, including driver’s licenses, were sold through websites.³
So when is identity theft not a problem? When asking too many questions conflicts with Democratic immigration policy that insists on amnesty at all costs.
Lawmakers bemoan show me your papers laws.
Democratic lawmakers cried foul when states wise enough to see where federal immigration policy was headed tried to pass “show me your papers” laws requiring proof of citizenship or immigration status. It wasn’t enough that the Supreme Court struck down state enforcement measures like Arizona’s SB 1070. Democrats in Congress were incensed that law enforcement would even consider asking about immigration status, whether or not there were any teeth behind citizenship inquiries.
Why are citizenship and immigration status forbidden topics?
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus set forth its One Nation: Principles on Immigration Reform and Our Commitment to the American Dream after the November election. The declaration talks about immigration policy that “Establishes a workable employment verification system that prevents unlawful employment …”4 and “Renews our commitment to citizenship …”,5 bold words from a group that has loudly criticized states that ask about immigration status and has labeled all but the most spineless enforcement efforts anti-immigration. How do we go about preventing unlawful employment and committing to citizenship when immigration status is a forbidden topic and immigration policy rhetoric embraces amnesty and accuses opponents of racism and racial profiling? Consider this caucus member’s remarks in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on SB 1070:
I know they will not be using that kind of tactic on people with the last name Roberts, Romney, or Brewer, but if your name is something like Gutierrez or Chung or Obama, watch out. The express goal of the authors of Arizona’s SB1070 is to make life miserable for immigrants so that they will leave, and a key tool in that effort was upheld by the Court.6
Real ID Act is Textbook Federal Hypocrisy.
The hypocrisy of the Real ID Act lies in asking states to do in the name of anti-terrorism precisely what the Federal Government has forbidden them to do when the offenders are illegal immigrants. No one should be surprised that a bill requiring state residents to provide proof of date of birth, Social Security number, or immigration status to acquire identity documents will be postponed indefinitely, or until it can be superseded with something less restrictive.
We are still waiting for the comprehensive immigration reform proposal that metes out criminal penalties and deportation for identity fraud and Social Security number theft. In the quest for the Democratic version of the American dream, these crimes will become just as forgivable as nullifying anti-terrorism efforts lawmakers told us were passed to protect that dream.