Thursday, January 13, 2011

Implementing REAL ID

Less Expensive, Doable, and Helpful in Reducing Fraud

By May 2011, all states must be in compliance with the first 18 security benchmarks of the federal secure driver's license law known as the REAL ID Act. REAL ID was prompted by the fact that the 9/11 hijackers acquired a total of 30 state-issued IDs and driver's licenses in order to embed themselves here (and board airplanes).

The Center for Immigration Studies has published a review of the current state of REAL ID: 'REAL ID Implementation: Less Expensive, Doable, and Helpful in Reducing Fraud' was prepared by Janice Kephart, a former 9/11 Commission counsel and currently the Center's National Security Policy Director. The paper is online at Among the findings:

REAL ID has proven easier and less expensive to implement than previously believed. Using actual state budget numbers, total one-time costs to implement REAL ID’s 18 security benchmarks, for all states combined, could be as low as $350 million and not likely to exceed $750 million.

These numbers are significantly less than the one-time costs of at least $1 billion that the National Governors Association (NGA), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) claimed in 2006.

Eleven states are already fully compliant with REAL ID's 18 security benchmarks, ahead of the May 2011 deadline. Another eight states are close behind.

The legal presence of applicants is being checked in all but two states, up 28 states from 2006. Every state is now checking Social Security numbers.

Some states were able to achieve full compliance in less than a year, and other state costs came in significantly below the projections which have been used for years to denigrate REAL ID’s feasibility.

Compliant states are finding REAL ID to be helpful in reducing fraud by criminals and illegal aliens shopping for the easiest driver's license issuance rules. Motor vehicle departments using REAL ID standards are also increasing criminal investigations of those who have traditionally used driver's license systems to commit identity theft and operate illegally under multiple identities.

Regulatory proposals from the NGA, NCSL, and AAMVA, slated for an upcoming lobbying campaign, incorporate language from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s failed 2009 PASS ID Act, which sought to repeal much of REAL ID.

Secretary Napolitano in November 2010 ordered an internal review with the goal of using the regulatory process to change REAL ID requirements after the failure of PASS ID.

The paper also includes a chart listing for every state the current status of implementation, federal grant monies issued to date, and costs of compliance, where available.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Janice Kephart, 202-466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Cuba, US hold new round of immigration talks

Cuba and the United States launched Wednesday in Havana a new wave of immigration talks.

A source at the United States Interests Section in Havana confirmed the start of negotiations, which are being held at a secret location and, according to the US State Department, aim to promote safe, legal and orderly migration between the two countries.

The government of US President Barack Obama, however, has made it clear that no significant progress will be made in these talks until the release from prison of US contractor Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in December 2009.

No formal charges have been pressed against Gross, 62, so far. Cuban authorities have accused him of distributing satellite communications systems on the island, where they are forbidden. According to US sources, he intended to facilitate Internet access for Cuba's Jewish organizations. Havana calls him a spy and says the case is still 'under investigation.'

This is the fourth immigration meeting of its kind between the United States and communist Cuba. Talks were relaunched in 2009, after Obama was inaugurated, after a six-year pause. The third round of negotiations took place in Washington in June.

Cuba and the United States signed a migration agreement in 1994, in the wake of the so-called Balsero Crisis, when thousands of Cubans reached US shores on precarious rafts and boats.

Since then, the United States has agreed to grant 20,000 visas per year to Cuban citizens, while Cuba takes back without retaliation those who are sent home by US authorities.

Based on the 1966 Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act, any Cuban citizen who reaches US soil is granted refugee status. If aspiring Cubans are found by the US Coast Guard at sea, however, they are sent back, in what is known as the 'Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy.' Cuba demands that this law be repealed, as a precondition for a new immigration deal.


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