Congress is a few days away from establishing sweeping federal requirements for a driver’s license, including proof that an applicant’s presence in the United States is legal, says the New York Times. Backers of a provision known as Real ID, which is being fine-tuned in a House and Senate conference committee this week, say it is primarily needed to keep driver’s licenses out of the hands of terrorists and criminals. Immigrant advocates say it will trip up workers with no criminal record into a system of penalties with few protections.
That result is welcomed by advocates for restricting immigration, who say Real ID will deter illegal immigrants by making it harder for them to use driver’s licenses to open bank accounts and buy homes. Pending court challenges have temporarily halted the suspension of an estimated 300,000 New York licenses, most held by noncitizens. Real ID provisions expected to be attached to a must-pass Iraq appropriations bill as early as next week, would likely supersede court challenges and start a vast expansion of the immigration records and national computer databases to be checked whenever anyone tries to get or renew a driver’s license.