Why We Need More Secure Driver’s Licenses
Raising the standards of state-issued identification is an
important step toward enhancing national security. Because a driver’s
license serves so many purposes (access to federal buildings, nuclear
power plants, boarding aircraft, etc.), criminals and terrorists
actively seek fraudulent state-issued identification. States that
implement measures to increase their documents’ security make it more
difficult for criminals to obtain these documents, while making it
easier for law enforcement to detect falsified documents. While many
states have invested in improvements to their driver’s licenses and
licensing processes, the lack of minimum performance standards have made
it possible for criminals and terrorists to exploit jurisdictions where
standards are lower and fraud is easier to commit. That is why the 9/11
Commission recommended that the federal government issue minimum
performance standards that all states could measure themselves against.
The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!
If our government’s failures to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation!
All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!
We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.
This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!
You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!
Democracy is not a spectator sport!
Lead, follow or get out of the way!
Ariz. lets interpreters help with written test
The Arizona Republic
Arizona has become a magnet for
foreigners who find it easier to get a driver’s license here than in the
states where they live. It’s a development that is raising
public-safety and national-security concerns.
Arizona has more permissive rules than any other state governing who
can get a license, how they can get it and how long the license is valid
before it expires. Hundreds of people come to Arizona from stricter
states seeking driving credentials.
Immigrant-rights advocates say Arizona provides an essential service
for people who are in the country legally, often as refugees. They know
how to drive a car but are unable to get a license in their home states
because they can’t pass a written test in English and translators aren’t
But officials from other states say Arizona may be a pipeline for
dangerously unqualified drivers. Also, some federal officials and
homeland-security advocates warn that Arizona is vulnerable to
propagating identity fraud and is notorious as a place for criminals to
get fake licenses.
Arizona, with numerous seasonal and other part-time residents, lacks a residency requirement for people seeking licenses.
Applicants for an initial license need to pass a written and road
test administered by the Motor Vehicle Division, or they need to pass a
certification test by a private, state-licensed school.
Applicants with permanent addresses in other states can use translators to help them with the MVD’s written tests.
An Arizona license is typically valid until the holder turns 65. In
the case of legal foreign residents, licenses expire with their visas.
Arizona does require applicants to document their legal presence in the country, and the Arizona Department of
has tighter standards than many states in the documents required to
prove lawful presence, ADOT and a national watchdog group say.
But no other state has a longer renewal period, offers adults a proxy
exam at a private school or issues out-of-of state licenses like
Arizona, said Brian Zimmer, president of the Washington, D.C.-based
Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, which wants to reduce ID fraud
with tighter document security.
“The word is out on the East Coast: There are certain states you go
to to get an easy license, and Arizona is one of them,” Zimmer said.
“The Number 1 concern is they become a hazard for other drivers,” he
said, noting that, for instance, understanding road signs in English can
be a problem.
The spotlight has turned on Arizona’s out-of-state licenses because of an ongoing Massachusetts investigation.
There, state authorities said they suspended the licenses of 124
Somali refugees. They also are investigating hundreds of other Arizona
license holders, according to the Boston Globe.
Authorities discovered the problem when the Somalis, who had failed a
written test to get a license in Massachusetts, tried to exchange their
Arizona licenses for Massachusetts credentials, said Richard Nangle,
spokesman for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Massachusetts allows exchanges without a written test.
Awaef Hussein, who helps immigrants at a Boston-area community
center, said many were refugees who had grown frustrated and needed to
drive to work. Some learned of Arizona’s licenses by word of mouth
because they had relatives here. All the immigrants he knows are in the
country legally, he said.
Despite the Massachusetts case, Arizona officials do not believe
their licensing system is widely abused. ADOT issued more than 3,900
out-of-state licenses in the past fiscal year.
“I don’t think there is any cause for alarm,” said Stacey Stanton,
director of ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Division. “There’s nothing to indicate
anything nefarious in this activity.”
But Zimmer and others warn that Arizona is ripe for abuse.
“Nationally, it is common knowledge among those who follow these
things that Arizona’s system can be manipulated,” said Vincent Picard,
spokesman for Immigration and Customs
ADOT earlier this year launched an investigation into private driving schools in the state, officials said.
Although investigators were examining the competency of the schools,
ICE officials also explained how there is potential for a “financial
incentive for them to be less diligent than they should be about
document security,” Picard said.
Zimmer, who was a senior investigator for the House Judiciary
Committee when he delved into how the 9/11 hijackers got ID documents,
warned of such a threat to national security.
“Of course there is, if a driving school can be induced to accept bribes from a criminal,” he said.
On Tuesday, prosecutors in Pennsylvania underscored the point when a
federal grand jury convicted a Philadelphia woman for illegally helping
hundreds of out-of-state residents there get driver’s licenses.
The indictment said co-defendants in the case helped applicants
provide phony Pennsylvania addresses and helped them cheat on tests
between 2006 and last year. An undercover investigator was guaranteed a
driver’s license for $2,200 and fraudulent residency documents for $300,
according to the indictment.
Recent cases in New Mexico also highlight the concerns.
Last month, a state grand jury returned a 300-felony-count indictment
against an Albuquerque woman who was accused of creating fake residency
documents to help illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses in that
state, according to a statement from the New Mexico’s Governor’s Office.
“This is yet another egregious case that shows we’re attracting
criminal elements to our state for the sole purpose of obtaining
driver’s licenses,” Gov. Susana Martinez said. “Our driver’s licenses
have been compromised, and we’re not only putting our residents at risk
but those living in other states, as well.”
Zimmer’s group, the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, said New Mexico is another state known for laxity.
The group said New Mexico is one of a dozen states that has met 10 or
fewer of the 18 requirements under the 2005 REAL ID Act, a key
post-9/11 legislation designed to eliminate the identity vulnerabilities
exploited by the attackers.
Arizona, which has met 12 requirements, is one of a dozen other states with fewer than 14 in place.
From July 1, 2010, to June 30 of this year, ADOT issued more than
3,900 out-of-state licenses, down from a high of more than 12,000 during
the same period five years earlier.
Stanton could not say how many were residents of other states or how many obtained licenses via private schools.
No school has lost its license after an annual renewal process or
random state audit, nor have there been any customer complaints, she
ADOT’s investigation into the schools is ongoing.
“We want to make sure professional driving schools are conducting
themselves according to their contract,” Stanton said. “You’ve got a
customer who’s paid for a class. We want to make sure there is consumer
protection and that student gets what they paid for.
“I also want to make sure people are fit and able to be on the roadways.”
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