Senator Martin Malavé Dilan Participates In Study Group On Realities Of The "Real ID Act"

Martin Malavé Dilan

April 04, 2007

          In May 2005 Congress passed the "Real ID Act," which requires states to issue federally approved licenses or identification (ID) cards to those who live and work in the United States starting in May 2008.

          On Monday, March 19th, Senator Dilan participated in a Study Group considering the potential impact of the "Real ID Act," an unfunded federal mandate that would require all individuals nationwide to acquire the new ID card – affecting an estimated 245 million current driver license and identification card holders. The Study Group was born from concerns of the Senate Minority Conference with the implications of "Real ID’s" on individual liberties, privacy, security, and the financial wellbeing of the state.

          "It is important that we are engaging this issue now as security, immigration and labor rights are major concerns for the people of the 17th Senatorial District, New York State and the nation as a whole," Senator Dilan said.

          Several experts on civil liberty, labor and immigration issues explained some of the pitfalls and risks involved in enacting and implementing the "Real ID Act." Attendees included Amy Sugimori, Executive Director of La Fuente; Udi Ofer, Field Director and Legislative Counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union; Raquel Batista, Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of NYIC and Milan Bhatt, Workers’ Rights Advocacy Coordinator of NYIC; Ana Polanco of UNITE HERE; and Laura Eldridge of 32-BJ.

          "I have several serious concerns about the "Real ID Act." First and foremost are the fiscal implications, which the Department of Homeland Security estimated to total $23 billion for New York State. Second, the way that databases of individuals’ personal information will be linked in a uniform state database, accessible to every other state, and composed of standard-machine-readable components which will in effect make the Real ID a true national ID card – and behind it a national database of personal information with no guarantee of security. Third, by forcing all citizens to provide multiple pieces of verifying identification to the Department of Motor Vehicles to acquire the Real ID, this Act would be an administrative nightmare, and one of the most aggressive pieces of anti-immigration legislation to date," Senator Dilan said.

          Senator Dilan expressed his commitment to signing on to a legislative resolution introduced by State Senator Eric Schneiderman, which urges the New York State Congressional Delegation to suspend implementation of, or repeal entirely, the "Real ID Act."

          Senator Dilan said, "‘The Real ID Act’ would have a detrimental impact on the 17th district as it would convert state driver licensing into a function of federal law enforcement and national security, enforced by the DMV, a state agency already overburdened and ill equipped to determine fraudulent documentation and immigration standards."

          The "Real Id Act" was slipped into a 2005 Iraq, Afghanistan supplemental appropriations and Tsunami relief bill – an imperative piece of legislation that enjoyed widespread support and no debate – and is slated to become effective as of May 11, 2008, barring any state intervention.