REAL ID endorsed to solve problem with illegals
Spokeswoman says 'we'll stick with' plan for documentation
The White House is going to stick with its REAL ID plan for making sure of the identities of those in the United States, whether U.S. citizens or not, according to spokeswoman Dana Perino.
She was asked about a pending controversy sparked by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who approved granting state driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
"New York Gov. Spitzer's approval of state driver's licenses for illegal aliens has been deplored by New York Mayors Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg. And my question: Does the president agree with them, or with Spitzer?" asked Les Kinsolving, WND's correspondent at the White House.
"We'll stick with our REAL ID Act which the president encouraged Congress to pass and that he signed into law," she said.
The plan, according to the federal government, is a "nationwide effort intended to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud, and improve the reliability and accuracy of identification documents that State governments issue."
It arose from the ashes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with the federal commission investigating the attacks suggested the U.S. improve its system for issuing secure ID.
As the commission concluded, "At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists."
The program that eventually was approved by Congress focused on standards for such identification documents.
The Department of Homeland Security this year released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the act, a move toward the actual implementation of the law.
The government specifically rejects the contention that REAL ID is a national ID card. "The Federal Government is not issuing the licenses, is not collecting information about license holders, and is not requiring States to transmit license holder information to the Federal Government that the Government does not already have (such as a Social Security Number)," the government said.
Spitzer's decision goes back to a 2006 appeals court decision that provided New York greater flexibility in issuing driver's licenses. At that point the Pataki administration wanted immigrants to prove their legal status before getting the documentation. But as a candidate, Spitzer promised to change that.
But when the state Senate blocked his plan, he said he could govern through agencies he controls, and issued instructions that licenses be granted without proof of citizenship.
However, a majority of the state County Clerks Association have expressed opposition and several clerks have threatened to ignore the instructions. Senate Republicans also said they would try to undo Spitzer's decree in a special session.
The REAL ID Act also has generated opposition.
"Americans have rejected the idea of a national ID card," stated one organization that deals with electronic privacy.
In a second question, Kinsolving asked: "The Washington Examiner reports that the White House has declined to comment on Chris Matthews' statements, 'God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We'd all be under a parking lot,' and the Bush administration has 'finally been caught in their criminality.' Why does the White House allow itself to be silenced by such accusations from this person?"
"I don't feel silenced. I just feel like it's not necessary for me to comment on a commentator's point of view," Perino said.