ACLU Implores Congress to Address Real ID Head On, Not Through Shadowy Amendments Mandating National ID

May 18, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON, DC – Just one day after Oklahoma legislators passed the most scathing rejection of the Real ID Act, Representatives Steven King (R-IA) and Tom Price (R-GA) offered two amendments to a housing bill requiring a Real ID driver’s license to qualify for housing or home purchase assistance. The requirement would prevent people from accessing federal housing assistance programs unless their state participated in Real ID, effectively mandating a national identity card. Eleven states have passed laws rejecting Real ID and more than 35 states have taken steps to stop it.

The Real ID amendments to the housing bill follow a legacy of secrecy. The Real ID Act was attached to a 2005 military spending bill, debated behind closed doors and passed after-hours. The nationally standardized driver’s license would require machine-readable technology holding biometric information, such as a fingerprint or DNA sample, and would force the $23 billion cost completely onto the states. This information would be shared among state and federal agencies nationwide, effectively creating a national ID system. Real ID would put the most personal information into the type of database that is most vulnerable to identity theft.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Members of Congress knew two years ago that if Real ID were openly debated, the American people would have rejected it. Whether it’s two amendments or 200, it won’t change the growing wisdom that Real ID is a real nightmare. It’s a national ID that will invade our privacy, threaten national security and make all of us less safe. The King and Price amendments ignore the growing state rebellion against Real ID, and Congress should vote against these amendments and any future amendments mandating Real ID.”

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