AUSTIN, TX - Part of the Texas Department of Public Safety budget for the redesign of state licenses will be used to implement security features regulated by the Real ID Act of 2005. The redesign budget, approved during the last legislative session, will incorporate Real ID security features from a menu of options released by DHS in January of this year.
"Among other things, we will keep images of identity documents presented by the [license] applicant. Each license will have unique security features built into it. We are not releasing specifics of those features," said Tela Mange, DPS public information officer.
DPS did not give a reason why these features were not being released to the public. The nature of secrecy over budget allocations requiring state tax money raises serious concerns for citizens in the current political climate of general mistrust of Homeland Security and the Bush Administration. The passage of The Patriot Act, the annulment of Habeas Corpus and FISA wiretappings have sensitized Americans to globalized power grabs.
The Real ID Act of 2005 has a history of passing unnoticed into a publicly enforceable agenda by the Department of Homeland Security. The Real ID Act of 2005, a largely unfunded Congressional mandate, was passed in HR 1268 - an expedited bundle of legislation to provide emergency Indonesian Tsunami relief and supplemental war spending on Iraq. Since then, Real ID's justified existence is an answer to post-911 identity concerns of drivers licenses issued to foreign terrorists linked to the attacks. The decision to apply for a compliance extension in February was conducted in obscured meetings, largely without public input catering to the regards of DHS.
Since the release of the regulations, Real IDs have gained an orwellian reputation due to the regulation of certain machine readable technologies, such as radio frequency ID chips and the federalized demands for proof of national identity.
In other states, like Texas, immigration was a compelling force in conservative state lobbies to advance the passage of this Act on a federal level. The irony here is, only US citizens who provide documentation to the DPS, like Social Security number and birth certificate, can be issued this nationalized ID card. Additionally, only people possessing Real IDs will be made vulnerable to the potential of identity theft due to confirmed insecure and inadequate database networks approved for use in State's motor vehicle administration by DHS regulations. Undocumented immigrants will continue as undocumented immigrants, providing the same under the table benefits to businesses exploiting their labor force. Furthermore, foreign news reports that TSA currently has no open legal bearing to request ID at US airport checkpoints. If you forget your ID - you may board your flight as planned with additional pat downs and airport screenings.
So what is the "official federal purpose" of a Real ID in the possession of a Texas citizen? As of May 11th, 2008 you need a "federally approved ID" or the functional equivalent to board commercial aircraft and to enter federal facilities. However, accroding to the Real ID Act of 2005, the official federal purpose of a Real ID is at the "discretionary authority of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security".
"I have studied identification and identity cards carefully, and I want you to know that a national ID is neither a protection from terrorism nor a response to the attacks of September 11th, 2001. A national ID would satisfy the federal government's demand for control-- not American's genuine need for security and law enforcement," says Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, CATO Institute; Member, Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security .
In the case of Texas State borderlands, the DHS waived 36 federal laws in April 2008 on the grounds of Secretary Chertoff's "discretionary aurthority" and Section 102C to expedite the build of a borderwall fence. Whatever your position is on a Mexica border wall fence, please not that possessing a Real ID is not necessarily about what's in your wallet.
Ask the 50 Texas landowners being sued for temporary access to their property what they think Real ID is about.
The texas state legislature will vote on the future of Real IDs during the next legislative session in 2009.