Implementation of a National ID card will be automatically imposed on all states unless Congress takes action in 1999.
More immediate efforts to impose the system, first exposed in WorldNetDaily, were derailed by a one-year moratorium on the National ID regulations included in the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress Thursday. It was a provision that was not without controversy.
The moratorium was first included in the transportation appropriations bill, but Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, convinced Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-GA, to remove it before passage, according to House Transportation Committee sources.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation
Subcommittee included the ban in the omnibus bill, according to a committee staff member. However, Smith continued to make efforts to kill the provision, according to Patrick Poole of the watchdog group Free Congress Foundation.
“It was reported that Lamar Smith had obtained an agreement from Speaker Gingrich to eliminate this provision from the bill,” reported Poole. The ban was back in the bill “after many House members openly complained to the speaker about Lamar Smith’s seemingly religious devotion to the National ID idea and the American people’s vehement opposition to being branded and tagged by the U.S. government.”
Numerous organizations opposed to the concept of a National ID rallied their
members to send thousands of letters, faxes, and make phone calls to Congress for the past two weeks. Smith failed to return calls to WorldNetDaily.com, but he did publish a letter in the “Washington Times” on Tuesday because of the many calls his office received.
“I do not support a National ID card and don’t know anyone in Congress who
does,” said Smith in his letter. He tried to label those voicing opposition as radicals when he added, “There are fringe groups that believe the United Nations is taking over Yellowstone National Park, that Congress is creating a National ID card or that they have been abducted by UFOs.”
Congress put the wheels in motion to create a National ID card in 1996 with the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. One section of the act, which was largely unnoticed at the time, requires all states to make their driver’s licenses comply with certain guidelines found in Section 656 (b) of the act.
The law prohibits states from issuing driver’s licenses unless they comply with the new requirements beginning Oct. 1, 2000. The new licenses must use the Social Security number as the driver’s license number, for example.
The act also calls for digitized biometric information to be a part of each license, or “smart card.” The biometric information will include fingerprints, retina scans, DNA prints and other similar information.
Responsibility for the design and implementation of the cards has been given to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. That agency has recently published the proposed “Driver’s License/SSN/National Identification Document,” which contains the guidelines which must be in force by Oct. 1, 2000. The “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” sets out the standards for each state to follow in the design of “identification documents.”
“These new National ID regulations violate every notion of federalism, because they force states to comply with regulations issued by the federal government without any constitutional authority to do so,” said Poole recently. “Nor are federal agencies empowered to force states to gather detailed information on every person in order to comply with federal mandates. The net result of the DOT’s regulations is to establish a National ID system, which has been opposed by almost every non-governmental sector for the past five decades.”
The moratorium is needed while efforts are made to repeal Section 656 (b) of the act. The moratorium will relieve states from spending money on unnecessary development costs.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-TX, Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, and Rep. Bob Barr, R-GA, have been working on repeal legislation, but there was insufficient time to bring it to a vote during this session of Congress.
“Speaker Gingrich did come dangerously close to selling us out on National IDs,” said a congressional staffer.
Numerous grass-roots organizations opposed to the National ID system were
celebrating the inclusion of the moratorium in the omnibus bill just passed by
The DOT solicited public comments on their plans for implementation of Section 656 (b) of the act earlier this year. The public comment period has just closed and many thousands of letters in opposition were received, according to a spokesman. Five states also expressed opposition to the plan, and only a “small number” of letters supporting the plan were known to the spokesman, who spoke on condition that his name would not be published.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators also wrote to the DOT and recommended repeal of the law, even though they had once been in favor of such legislation.
“Over the past 10 years, the AAMVA has vigorously pushed Congress and the
various state motor vehicle directors to implement policies to require the submission of social security numbers as a condition for issuance of driver’s licenses. This resounding defeat may spell the end of their ill-fated quest,” said Scott McDonald, a grass-roots activist who operates the “Fight the Fingerprint” website. He is able to mobilize thousands of activists on a
national basis using his e-mail notification system.
“There is no satisfactory condition under which Social Security Numbers may be required as a condition for travel,” said McDonald. “The victory’s definitely not yet won. During these lull periods there’s an opportunity for proponents of these issues to let opposition die down and all of a sudden, pop, it goes through without anyone even aware of it.
“I don’t see how the Department of Transportation could go forth with
implementing the regulation with all that strong opposition to it. Even five states wrote letters of strong opposition to requiring Social Security numbers,” said McDonald.
“This National ID is not just isolated to America. This is going on all over the world. Every country has some form of it going on,” explained Jackie Juntti, leader of the Washington Grass-Roots E-mail Network. Her group takes credit for defeating an earlier effort in 1997 to put fingerprints on driver’s licenses in Washington state.
“We’re just people out here trying to remain free,” she said. Juntti’s “NoID Orange Ribbon Campaign,” found on many Internet Web sites, began after
she refused to produce a driver’s license to board an airplane. She was searched thoroughly and then granted a seat on the plane.
“For a year we’re safe,” said Lisa Dean of the Coalition for Constitutional
Liberties, another organization that has been actively campaigning against the provisions of Section 656 (b). She agreed that the toughest part of her
organization’s challenge is in front of her. Rep. Smith, and other proponents of the measure have framed their issue around illegal immigration.
Dean’s organization has received many responses for and against a National
ID. Many have voiced support for her efforts, but some have told her “what
difference does it make? The government already has our information,” according to Dean. Others also mention the need to control illegal immigration.
Now that a moratorium is in place for a year, Dean expects repeal efforts will also include finding alternative ways to resolve the concerns about illegal immigrants, although no recommendations are in place as yet.