Column: Real ID

By Jeff Lipsey

As my roommate and I frantically tried to get ready to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Friday before they closed we were regretting having to go. Back in Aurora, the DMV is the most regrettable place to go. Long lines, unhappy employees and a stuffy atmosphere all make that trip one that we never want to make.

But, when we went to the DMV here in Champaign, we were well surprised. I assumed that with only 15 minutes left until their not-so-exciting workweek ends, the employees at the Champaign DMV would be more involved with their weekend plans and less excited to see two college students straggle in from the heat.

I was wrong. Not only did the employees at the DMV treat us very politely, but also both of us got out of there within 20 minutes. It had to be the least regretful experience at the DMV yet.

So, when I read about President Bush’s Real ID program I wonder the magnitude of good it will accomplish. Real ID requires states to identify the immigration status of anyone applying for a driver’s license or identification card. A final version would add a section that allows the undocumented to get a license; however, the undocumented could not use the licenses as an “official” source for identification and thus would become useless. There are two things wrong with this issue.

First, this new program is going to cost as much as $100 million for each state, according to Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia. This money would go to the training and implementation of the program, as the employees of the DMV would hardly be qualified enough to determine the legal residence of applicants.

    Join Our Newsletter

    I also wonder where each state is going to get this funding. Considering in Illinois we pay $78 for a measly sticker to renew our license plates. Gov. Rod Blagojevich just doubled the tolls and his budget is already in shambles as it is, where he is going to be able to fit the Real ID in the budget is beyond me.

    Secondly, I wonder what Bush’s goals are by implementing this program. If his goal is to decrease the amount of undocumented foreigners into the country then I hope he knows this is not going to work. The people already risk their life by coming here and the inability to not get a drivers license will not stop individuals from escaping poverty and deprivation.

    The only thing that Real ID will accomplish is it will increase the number of unlicensed motorists without insurance. Also, if they know they can’t get a driver’s license by going to the DMV, then they aren’t even going to try to go. Millions of dollars will go into training state workers when they won’t even need it.

    I personally believe this is a way to have Bush force his agenda on the states. He gets hell from the country about his budget already so he will force the states to come up with the funding for his idea. The money used in this already poorly funded program can go to better places. Helping the homeless, saving lives, heck, even giving it to NASA to go to Mars sounds like a better idea.

    By not allowing them to get a driver’s license, Bush is just opening up another can of worms. Some believe that this program serves as another tool to prevent acts of terrorism. That may be true and it may not be true, I don’t know that and I’m not going to speculate. However, one thing is true; Real ID will not accomplish any goals set forth by this administration. The only thing it will accomplish is further negate the immigration situation that politicians already ignore anyway.

    Jeff Lipsey is a senior in business. His column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected].