From Reuters and the New York Times
The "Real ID'' program aims to take driver's licenses out of the hands of anyone who cannot prove they are in the United States legally. By so doing, supporters argue that illegal aliens would not be able to board airplanes or gain access to government buildings by using a state driver's license as identification.This bill involves creating a national database including personal information from all Americans who wish to drive, a burden that will fall upon the states - yet funding for such a massive undertaking is not provided in the bill, and frankly such a database wouldn't have prevented the 18 hijackers from gaining drivers licenses as none of them entered the country illegally.
``Eighteen of the 19 (Sept. 11) hijackers could've used their passports but chose instead to use state-issued ID and driver's licenses and it allowed them to get on the planes without detection,'' Lungren said.
The commission found that lax screening procedures and failure to follow up on intelligence information contributed to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Critics of Real ID complain it would basically establish a national identification program and will be a bureaucratic nightmare for states to enforce.
Rep John Conyers (D-MI) addressed this topic in a recent editorial column:
The driver's license provisions [of "Real ID"] negate a carefully negotiated bipartisan compromise law and would instead mandate federal one-size-fits-all driver's license standards without any input from the states that must issue them. In so doing, the legislation will prevent millions of immigrants from not only obtaining driver's licenses, but from being able to buy automobile insurance. The result will inevitably be far more dangerous highways and more accidents involving uninsured drivers. At the same time, the driver's license provisions threaten the civil liberties of American citizens by creating a massive new database run by the government, in which all of our personal information will be stored. The legislation contains virtually no safeguards against abuse or misuse of the information.Vyan