South Carolina Stands Firm Against DHS and Real ID

March 31, 2008 12:00 am

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Gov. Mark Sanford cites problems with failed program, refuses to participate

WASHINGTON – The governor of South Carolina today issued a blistering critique of the Department of Homeland Security’s national identification program, Real ID. The state is facing a DHS-imposed deadline to request that their drivers’ licenses and ID cards continue to be accepted for federal purposes. South Carolina was one of seven states that passed legislation prohibiting participation in the Real ID program, yet five of those states have already been granted waivers on the statutory deadline.

Real ID mandates that states turn their drivers’ licenses into national ID cards in order for their citizens to be able to gain access to commercial airplanes and federal buildings. In a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff today, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford provided a detailed litany of the problems with Real ID – from costs of the program, to the expansion of federal control over the traditional powers of the states, and the dangers to privacy that Real ID poses – saying, “Our greatest homeland security is liberty” and “Real ID provides no guarantees that it will make us any safer.”

“Governor Mark Sanford stood up for the privacy rights of South Carolinians and all Americans today,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program. “DHS has already caved to five states that have refused to participate in the Real ID boondoggle. This program, which would have been a real nightmare for all Americans, is dying a slow but certain death.”

States continue to reject the Real ID Act, with 18 already passing legislation opposing it or opting out altogether. Many of the states that received waivers from DHS have backed away from the program, either refusing to commit to compliance or, in the case of Montana and New Hampshire, stating explicitly that they will not comply. Bills are pending in the US House and Senate to replace Real ID with a negotiated rulemaking process, which was recommended by the 9/11 Commission and would improve identity security within one to two years, rather than the decade-long implementation period set by DHS for Real ID.

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