WISCONSINREPORT.COM (03/21/08) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin is encouraging all Wisconsin legislators to say no to Real ID. The ACLU position is that Real ID is an expensive, pointless, and overly invasive federal mandate. When President George W. Bush signed the Real ID Act a couple of years ago, it became mandatory that states become involved. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation currently must comply with Real ID rules by 2010. Even though Real ID is a federal law, states must finance the Real ID program, so the Wisconsin legislature is considering ways to do that.
President Bush signed the REAL ID Act of 2005 into law on May 11, 2005. The Act forces state Departments of Transportation to follow very specific requirements that have the effect of turning everyone’s driver’s license into a national identity card.
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee adopted the Senate Democrats’ version of an emergency budget repair bill. The Senate Democrats’ plan transfers nearly $22,000,000 appropriated to implement Real ID to the general fund in order to decrease the state budget deficit.
Any implementation costs for Real ID during the 2007-09 biennium would come from the base resources for the Division of Motor Vehicles.
The federal government has granted the Wisconsin Department of Transportation an extension to comply with Real ID until December 31, 2009.
“The ACLU of Wisconsin applauds any move away from the federal Real ID program,” said Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “However, we believe the Legislature should reject the program outright.”
“Experience shows that such programs can not prevent terrorists from obtaining fake ID cards, but they do compromise the privacy rights of innocent citizens and immigrants,” Ahmuty continued.
“The State of Wisconsin has a dismal record of accidentally disclosing thousands of residents’ Social Security numbers. ACLU worries about a program like Real ID that will increase the threat of identity theft, enable the routine tracking of individuals, and propel us toward a surveillance society,” added Stacy Harbaugh of the ACLU of Wisconsin’s Madison office.
“If Wisconsin legislators say no to Real ID, Wisconsin will join a growing number of states that reject this Bush administration boondoggle. We urge them to act,” Harbaugh concluded.
For a map of which states have taken a stand against Real ID, visit the In The States page of the realnightmare.org website: http://realnightmare.org/news/105/.
The ACLU of Wisconsin defends the civil liberties and civil rights of all Wisconsin residents. There are nearly 9,000 members of the ACLU in Wisconsin. For more information, visit http://www.aclu-wi.org.
Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner was author of the Real ID Act, and was instrumental in pushing it through Congress.
Frank James (Jim) Sensenbrenner, Jr. (born June 14, 1943) is an American politician who has been a member of the Republican Party in the United States House of Representatives since 1979, representing Wisconsin's 5th congressional district. The district, the state's richest, includes most of Milwaukee's suburbs, including Waukesha, West Bend, Brookfield, Delafield, Mequon, New Berlin, Menomonee Falls and Wauwatosa. It was numbered as the 9th District until 2003. He has been unwavering in his support of the Bush administration's 'war on terror'.
Sensenbrenner is the former Chairman of the House Science Committee and the former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; with the Republican loss of control of the House he finished his 6-year term as Chairman, and was not chosen as the Judiciary Committee's ranking minority member (that honor went to Lamar S. Smith of Texas).
The REAL ID Act, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner on January 26, 2005, includes provisions that potentially place refugees at an increased risk of persecution and erode the USA's historic commitment to protect those seeking safe haven, according to a group called Human Rights First.
Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. To maintain their independence, the organization does not accept government funding.
“The REAL ID Act will place insurmountable burdens on already vulnerable asylum seekers by requiring unrealistic and unfair burdens of proof,” said Cory Smith, Legislative Counsel for Human Rights First.
“For example, some refugees seeking asylum are unable to track down documentation from their persecutors because to do so would jeopardize the safety of family members left behind. This bill would deny asylum and deport a refugee who is unwilling to risk her family’s safety to meet this new burden,” Smith pointed out.
In 2005, Human Rights First called upon Congress to oppose the anti-refugee provisions in the REAL ID Act. They mobilized to fight the REAL ID Act provisions that potentially harm refugees. In doing so, Human Rights First worked with a broad coalition of human rights groups, religious organizations and civil liberties groups, and a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders who were committed to protecting vulnerable refugees.