Con­sular ID al­lowance em­pow­ers crim­i­nals

The Washington Times Daily - - Editorial -

Writer Ch­eryl Chum­ley notes that crit­ics of Illi­nois’ move to pro­vide driver’s li­censes to il­le­gal im­mi­grants will pro­vide “a gate­way for forged doc­u­ments” (“No English, no prob­lem: Illi­nois il­le­gal im­mi­grants poised to get driver’s li­censes,” Web, Nov. 1). This is all too true. Illi­nois joins a num­ber of states this year that en­acted leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing their re­spec­tive mo­tor ve­hi­cle agen­cies to is­sue driver’s li­censes to those who are un­able or un­will­ing to pro­vide proof of law­ful sta­tus. One sim­i­lar­ity among the leg­is­la­tion en­acted this year is that they all re­quired the ac­cep­tance of a con­sular iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card as proof of iden­tity.

The chal­lenge for those mo­tor ve­hi­cle agen­cies is that they still have to per­form the job of ver­i­fy­ing an ap­pli­cant’s iden­tity be­fore is­su­ing a driver’s li­cense. And they have to do so by re­ly­ing on con­sular iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards that are not se­cure, dif­fi­cult to ver­ify and easy to coun­ter­feit. The Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion tes­ti­fied be­fore Congress in 2003 that “The Depart­ment of Jus­tice and the FBI have con­cluded that the Ma­tric­ula Con­sular is not a re­li­able form of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, due to the nonex­is­tence of any means of ver­i­fy­ing the true iden­tity of the card holder.”

When the FBI tes­ti­fied in 2003, Congress was con­duct­ing a thor­ough re­view of iden­tity man­age­ment and se­cu­rity in the wake of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, state mo­tor ve­hi­cle agen­cies, along­side the fed­eral govern­ment, have made im­pres­sive gains in pro­tect­ing the iden­tity of driver’s li­cense hold­ers from fraud. The chal­lenges and threats re­main the same today.

Re­ly­ing on doc­u­men­ta­tion that is not se­cure cre­ates a garbage-in-garbage-out sys­tem. It makes it very easy for crim­i­nals, un­safe driv­ers or any­one seek­ing to hide their iden­tity to use a con­sular iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card to fraud­u­lently ob­tain a valid driver’s li­cense. If state leg­is­la­tures are con­cerned about pub­lic safety and se­cu­rity, a se­ri­ous ef­fort should be un­der­taken to re­view what for­eign doc­u­men­ta­tion can be se­curely ac­cepted as proof of iden­tity. Re­gard­less of the pol­i­tics, no one wants to create a recipe for fraud.

BRIAN ZIM­MER

Wash­ing­ton

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