Oct 03 2008

California Governor Rejects Bill That Would Implement REAL ID System

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed SB 60. The legislation would have created a two-tier driver’s license system that would have allowed for the issuance of licenses to undocumented immigrants while at the same time formally adopt the REAL ID Act’s national identification system in California.

Specifically, SB 60 said:

SEC. 2. The Legislature intends by the enactment of this act to accomplish the following:
(a) Meet or exceed the document and issuance standards set forth in the federal Real ID Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-13), to ensure that California has a federally recognized and acceptable driver’s license and identification card.
(b) Provide driver’s licenses that permit driving, but cannot be used for federal identification purposes, consistent with the federal Real ID Act of 2005, to California drivers that cannot meet the minimum identity confirmation requirements necessary to obtain a federally recognized driver’s license or identification card.

In a statement (PDF) accompanying the veto, Gov. Schwarzenegger focused on the immigration implications of the REAL ID Act. He explained, “This bill does not specify how DMV would validate the identity of individuals who do not have documented proof that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. I have previously stated that the ability to verify documents used to establish an identity must include a way to determine whether an individual is who he or she purports to be.”

Those of us who have been following the REAL ID issue, as well as other identification-based security programs, know that there is no sure way for an individual to prove his or her identity based merely on documents that can be easily forged.

This rejection of SB 60, which would have required California to meet or exceed the document and issuance standards set forth in the federal REAL ID Act, unfortunately can not be interpreted as a rejection of the Act by the Governor. He also stated that “given the potential impact of the REAL ID Act on the public safety and homeland security of Californians, members of my Administration continue to work closely with the federal government on these issues.”

However, many other state governors have signed legislation that questioned the validity of the REAL ID system. In July, Louisiana became the 11th state to prohibit implementation of or funds to be spent on the national identification program.

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