Why We Need Secure Driver Licenses: Educational Video Series Release

By CIS on January 13, 2009

Contact: Janice Kephart
[email protected], (202) 466-8185

WASHINGTON (January 13, 2009) -- For the past two years DHS has shown ramped up commitment to helping states diminish fraud and increase security by enhancing driver license issuance across the board. Using the monies Congress has provided to date, alongside final regulation guidance and contracts with individual states to move secure ID issuance forward, a key 9/11 Commission recommendation is being fulfilled. However, the incoming Obama Administration may begin backpedaling on our security. In 2008 President-Elect Obama stated that he does not support REAL ID “because it is an unfunded mandate, and not enough work has been done with the states to help them implement the program.”

To date, states have received a total of $130 million from the federal government towards implementation, with Congress appropriating another $100 million in 2008. In an effort to continue progress, Secretary Chertoff released $48.6 million in December 2008 to all 56 U.S. jurisdictions based on driver license production, not compliance, as prior year grants had been. There is no doubt that to fulfill this 9/11 Commission recommendation, sustained federal dollars are needed to fully secure driver license and ID issuance. Rather than another program that drains the federal budget, REAL ID implementation is showing itself to be a return on investment, eliminating waste by reducing fraud. For example, in key areas such as digitization of vital record information (11 states online since March 2007) and proof of legal status (25 states in the last 20 months have signed up to check legal status), states are seeing positive results by cutting off vulnerabilities that made them magnets for fraud, counterfeiting, identity theft, illicit drug running, illegal immigration and alien smuggling activity. States that have failed to do so, like Maryland, are seeing a surge in fraud and depletion of resources that extends to education and healthcare, as was testified to by Maryland officials just a few weeks ago.

With the disconnect between the significant progress of states in securing their ID issuance processes and the on-the-record concerns of the President-Elect, the Center for Immigration Studies has produced a two-part educational video series narrated by the Center’s Director of National Security Policy, Janice Kephart. These videos are the first in a series on border policy.



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The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute
that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.