While the REAL ID Act, passed in 2005, has yet to go into practical application, and has already sent critics into a fervor concerning some of the law’s specifics. Furthermore, individual states have vowed refusal to follow this piece of legislation as it reads. The Rearing and Empowering America for Longevity against acts of International Destruction Act, as it is known in full, has come under fire for the new restrictions and qualifications it would impose on all driver’s license holders.
For the majority of Americans, a chief point of concern is that review of driver’s licenses will involve sharing of sensitive information across state lines and storage of that information in a central database that, if exploited, could allow hackers to access Social Security numbers and other forms of identification that are critical to keep secure. Coupled with this fear is the assertion that the REAL ID Act does not spell out the limits of how driver’s licenses may be used, and so identity checks at machine-readable terminals for mundane tasks might not only be inefficient, but a threat to privacy, as the federal government could theoretically track one’s movements based on use of one’s driver’s license.
Meanwhile, for illegal aliens, there are other, more prominent concerns. A new requirement for obtaining a driver’s license under the REAL ID Act is proof of a person’s legal right to live in the United States. Under this law, an illegal immigrant could not only be refused a driver’s license, but also be subject to the discovery that he or she is not a legal resident; this could lead directly to his or her deportation.
Therefore, police officers charged with the scrutiny of state-issued driver’s licenses may also be charged with a double duty: protecting and serving American civilians and helping to usher illegal aliens out of the country. Understandably, many people who support the efforts of illegal immigrant workers in the United States would be vehemently opposed to such a measure.
Even now, driver’s licenses are an uncertain prospect for many illegal aliens. Less than 25% of the individual fifty states support the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants – even in some of those states that do support driving privileges for illegal aliens, there are separate ID cards created specifically for that purpose. Utah, for example, issues such a “Driver Privilege Card” for the legal or illegal immigrant who does not possess a Social Security number, yet regardless of what effects the REAL ID Act has, as much as 75% of Americans are against the issuance of driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
In fact, recognition of illegal immigrant driving privileges (and/or waffling on the subject) has actually hurt some politicians in their campaigns. Hillary Clinton, for one, gained much notoriety for being unprepared for a question on the subject of driver’s licenses for illegal aliens in a public forum during the 2008 presidential campaign.