Monday, March 31, 2008

MAINE: Real ID, Land & Sea

DHS "Encouraged" by Maine Letter 3-27-08
c/o The Times Record

While Maine moves forward toward tightening driver's license requirements, U.S. Rep. Tom Allen last year co-sponsored a bipartisan law to repeal Real ID. Instead, the bill proposes bringing together Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and privacy, civil liberties and constitutional rights experts to establish driver's license standards that protect both national security and individual privacy.

For residents of states that do not comply or file for an extension of Real ID, lack of a secure means of identification could mean difficulties boarding airplanes or entering federal buildings beginning May 11, Homeland Security officials say. But the Legislature in Maine, as in other states, has passed a law forbidding the Department of Motor Vehicles from complying with Real ID, citing issues of privacy and security, as well as the unfunded federal mandate. Anticipating Monday's Real ID deadline, Allen sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, calling the May 11 deadline "arbitrary" and stating that Homeland Security has clearly acknowledged the Real ID program will not work in its current form.

"On Jan. 11, 2008, DHS tacitly acknowledged this when they issued final rules directing states on how to implement Real ID," Allen wrote. "By issuing delay after delay, your agency seems to acknowledge that Real ID is unworkable as written."

Cookson concurred, noting Real ID was signed into law in 2005, but only now is the compliance deadline approaching. Furthermore, he said, states were just notified of the law's rules in January, but the final deadline is in May."Just imagine the line at the DMV," he said, referring to the thought of nearly one million licensed drivers or state ID holders who need (new) credentials between mid-January and mid-May. "The way the Real ID Act and compliance of that law have unfolded, it's really been all over the place. The DHS has issued compliance waivers to states because they know for a fact that there's really no way a state can comply ... prior to the law's implementation." ::FULL STORY HERE::

TWIC'd OFF: The Travails of Mainers with Passports 3-31-08 commentary

For those of you closely watching State's who's-who of Real ID, you will have noticed that Maine stands more to lose by the day as national land and sea governance move toward checkpoint status. DHS droppped bait for the "voluntary" sign-up for Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program as Mainers are allready scrambling to get their passports gearing up for a federal scrap over Real ID after May 11th.

When fully implemented, the TWIC program will require port employees, longshoremen, mariners, truckers and others needing unescorted access to secure areas at ports to carry ID cards containing their biometric data. The cards would have to be renewed every five years. Workers are required to pay $132 for the card. According to other states, it's not that popular.

It doesn't stop there.

Thursday, DHS released a final ruling concerning Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which applies to previously exempt travelers, including citizens of the U.S. This will mandate fisherman and travelers doing business to-and-from cold Canadian waters to provide a U.S. passport to dock in their hometown for the night.

It appears Maine will have less to lose in the long run after the bum rush for biometrified passports with RFID chips subside. Oh well, there's always the microwave.

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