Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Such weeping and gnashing of teeth...

I'm not real big on the Federal ID program, to me it's another intrusion of Big Government into my daily life. After this April 1st, I have to produce a notarized birth certificate when I go to renew my driver's license. That's a pain in the tuckus, but I'll comply, just like I comply with the searches at the airport. I comply not because I like it, but because I want to go from Point A to Point B. I'll work to change the laws at the ballot box in the meantime.

Besides, I'm not one of the bazillion illegal immigrants in-country, sponging off society and expecting the USA served to them on a silver platter without having the integrity to become citizens of said country. That chaps my posterior in a big way, and I saw it in Kalifornia, Florida, and now Wisconsin.

From the March 26th Capital Times:


Real ID anxiety

Will new requirement for driver's licenses create unsafe roads and second-class citizens?
By Pat Schneider

Laws requiring motorists to prove they are in the country legally to get a driver's license will force immigrant workers further underground, make roads more dangerous and inconvenience all drivers, local workers' rights advocates say.

A state law goes into effect April 1, requiring proof of legal presence in the United States before a driver's license or state ID card is issued.

The new law will put Wisconsin in compliance with the federal REAL ID law, which requires states to adopt a legal presence requirement by May 2008.

Civil libertarians say the laws could make the lives of immigrant workers unbearable.

"They will be outcasts," Alex Gillis of the Immigrant Workers Union said of undocumented workers unable to get essential identification. "People can't start building a normal life without identification. It's going to be a nightmare."

Immigrant worker advocates say that laws preventing people from getting identification will make it impossible to get a credit card or buy a car and effectively force them into the black market.

"When applying for the privilege of driving on our streets, people's birth certificates are going to be scanned into a database shared across state lines," said Stacy Harbaugh, a Madison community advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union. "We're on our way to a surveillance society."

The federal law is designed to prevent another 9/11-type attack, Wisconsin's U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said when he introduced the 2005 legislation.

"The 9/11 hijackers could have used their passports to board the planes, but only one did. Why?" he said. "Those murderers chose our driver's licenses and state IDs as their forms of identification because these documents allowed them to blend in and not raise suspicion or concern. Mohammed Atta received a six-month visa to stay in the U.S., yet received a Florida driver's license good for six years!"

Wisconsin has been one of a handful of states that did not require proof of legal presence in order to secure a license.

The homeland security theme was repeated by sponsors of the state legislation.

"In the post-Sept. 11 era, it's amazing this issue has been overlooked in Wisconsin," said state Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin.

But critics of the bills said it will needlessly mistreat immigrants and disgruntle motorists without providing real security.

No long lines - yet: Patrick Fernan, director of driver services for the Division of Motor Vehicles, said motorists should not experience significant delays at the DMV office under the state law.

Upon presenting one among a number of acceptable documents establishing legal presence in the United States - ranging from a certified certificate of birth in the United States or a valid U.S. passport to a variety of immigration and Department of Homeland Security documents - the bearer will be eligible for an original, renewal or replacement Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card, Fernan said.

Identification documents acceptable under Wisconsin Act 126, Legal Presence Law, are listed online. Drivers who do not have a certified birth certificate or passport, but who have a valid Social Security number, can sign a form attesting they are a U.S. citizen and be eligible, Fernan said.

There will be no additional or increased fees for drivers under the state's Legal Presence Law starting April 1, Fernan said.

But when the federal REAL ID law kicks in, it will be a different story. Under the law, which goes into effect in May 2008, fewer exemptions, higher costs and longer waits at DMV offices are all but certain, Fernan said.

"The rules from the Department of Homeland Security are even more unrealistic than we feared," he said.

The REAL ID proposed rules were released on March 1, and the state is still developing its comments on them, Fernan said.

He pointed to the federal provision that identification documents be electronically verified on the spot as a key reason the federal law is unrealistic.

"A system needs to be created to validate every birth certificate issued since 1935 with the state of issue," Fernan said. "That system does not exist."

Drivers born before 1935 would not be required to produce birth certificates.

Gov. Jim Doyle called REAL ID "a nightmare" after the proposed rules were released. The $20 million he budgeted to hire 30 more full-time workers to comply with the federal law won't be enough money, Fernan said this week.

REAL ID also would require that every license or ID holder be processed under the new law by 2013, five years after its effective date. That requirement would cut short the state's eight-year renewal cycle, requiring DMV to process drivers in a much shorter period than usual, he said.

It all adds up to higher costs than can by covered by the planned $10 surcharge on driver's licenses, Fernan said.

In urging Congress to amend REAL ID, Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi last year cited estimates that put the cost to the states of implementing the law at $11 billion nationwide over the first five years.

'Waste of money': State Rep. Pedro Colon calls the $20 million the state already is slated to spend to comply with REAL ID "the biggest waste of money in the budget. It doesn't provide any value to the state."

Colon, D-Milwaukee, is especially outraged by a provision of the REAL ID law that would bar residents of non-compliant states from boarding airplanes.

"That's absurd - to stop our economy and freedom to travel," he said.

Colon said he is working to convince the Joint Finance Committee, on which he sits, to put the $20 million budgeted for REAL ID compliance to other uses.

Maine and Idaho have passed resolutions rejecting participation in REAL ID. Bills rejecting the law have been introduced in a dozen other states, according to published reports.

Legislation to repeal and replace the law has been introduced in Congress.

Salvador Carranza, president of Dane County's Latinos United for Change and Advancement, LUChA, said his organization is working with Colon's office to come up with some kind of certificate that would provide for testing and regulation of drivers who can not produce the documentation required under REAL ID.

"People need to get to work, and since we live in a country where public transportation is not as good as it should be, if people cannot get driver's licenses, some of them are going to take the risk and drive without the right training or license," Carranza said.

"And when we're having an increase in accidents involving people who don't have insurance because they can't get a license, the industry is going to have to hike its rates," he said.

"Supposedly the whole idea was to prevent a terrorist attack, but to have a system with the features to be able to do that costs millions the states do not have," he said.

Mario Mendoza, an aide to Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, helped host a workshop geared to Latino residents on the new state law this week. It drew not a single participant.

"There has been a lot of discussion of the law in the Latino community," he said. "Perhaps people already have awareness."

Fears have been circulating in the Latino community that under the state law immigrant drivers who don't have licenses and who are stopped by police will be detained or deported.

But the city of Madison does not enforce immigration law, Mendoza said.

Madison Police Lt. Stephanie Bradley Wilson said the policy of her department will not change under the new law.

"Our main focus is traffic safety," she said. "We want people licensed. But we don't stop people to check their immigration status."

People stopped for a traffic violation who don't have a license will be ticketed, but their names will not be passed along to any federal agency, she said.

My Gawd. Cry me a river, will ya?

They don't want to earn citizenship in these United States the proper way. Slip in under the radar, steal school and health benefits from lawful taxpayers, and cry foul when you're made to atone for it. If you want civil liberties here, become a citizen, pay taxes, and speak friggin' English at Taco Bell when I order at the drive through.

Lady, you're not helping your cause much when you spout this hilarious tidbit, either:

"I'm here to stand up for all Latinos, who are going to need licenses to do all kinds of things, from driving a car to opening a bank account," Postel said. "This law will further marginalize a group that is already on edge."

Last I heard, you need a driver's license to drive a car in Wisconsin, whether you're Latino, Norwegian, Hmong, or otherwise. As a matter of fact, you need a driver's license to drive a car in other states, too. Unless, of course, you're one of those non-licensed, non-insured people out there on the road responsible for driving up the uninsured motorist premiums on my own policy. (Why'd she mention it if she and her Mexican-born husband were already licensed to drive, hmmm?)

It's just a tempest in a teapot. If you've got nothing to hide, no problems. If you're here illegally, yes, you have problems, and it'll bite you in the posterior when you go to get a driver's license, surprise, surprise! (Assuming you intend to drive with a license...)

Tell ya what. If Los Illegals don't like it, I'd be more than happy to hire on as a border coyote to guide them back where they came from. Heck, since I'm a nice guy, I'd give a discount and take them to the nearest INS branch and help them start their application paperwork to become Naturalized citizens. It's only fair, considering how many of their fellow immigrants did the right thing by raising their hands during the ceremony and reciting the Oath of Allegiance (in English) in front of the judge, becoming Honest-to-Gawd citizens in the process. Anything less, and they have absolutely no right to bitch, and the ACLU won't be their knight in shining armor, either. I don't care how "on edge" y'all are, get your crap in one sock or take it elsewhere.