As the old adage goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; a lesson sadly learned when some of the 9/11 terrorists got their drivers licenses in states which had low or no standards.
North Carolina remains a hotbed of driver's license fraud. A page one story on January 26th in the Greensboro News & Record headlined this shocking story:
"North Carolina examiners should not aggressively investigate illegal immigrants who might be seeking fraudulent driver's licenses, a top state executive suggested in a memo nearly two years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."[ DMV MEMO OKS LICENSES FOR ILLEGALS, by Taft Wireback]
Moreover, Wayne Hurder, who supervises the state's driver-license section for the state Division of Motor Vehicles in Raleigh, sent an e-mail message in August 2003 criticizing some of his DMV officials for being too aggressive with immigrants.
All this continued law breaking is despite a previous Greensboro News & Record story (DMV BOOSTS SECURITY WITH NEW SOFTWARE; October 11, 2004) reporting that the state's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is incorporating new technology to keep people from getting fraudulent driver's licenses. The DMV is paying about $1.5 million to a Massachusetts firm, Viisage Technology, to incorporate facial-recognition equipment at its 127 driver's license offices statewide.
How big is the problem? Seems to me North Carolinians should demand to find out. A number of hard-hitting newspaper stories caused one Democrat member of the North Carolina legislature to introduce legislation to "reform" the state's lax Driver License law.
However, this is not the good news that it may appear.
The new proposed legislation does not define "legal presence." It would not take effect for a long time, and —worst of all— it fails to address the 400,000+ illegal aliens who have already obtained valid North Carolina Driver Licenses under lax guidelines.
We learned from reports in the Boston Herald earlier this month that extremely violent illegal alien drug gangs including El Salvadoran drug gang "MS-13" is deeply involved in smuggling people (including Al Qaeda operatives) over the US-Mexican border. [Rep: Terrorist gang could infiltrate border, By Michele McPhee Friday, March 4, 2005]
How could this level of criminal activity be going on without police and licensing officials' knowledge? With this kind of volume, gangs are naturally attracted to illicit business that generates such a large flow of cash income (illegal aliens don't pay for their DL's with AMEX Cards).
Folks, among the states with lax Driver License laws, North Carolina really stands out.
Let's be very specific here. The Internal Revenue Service for years issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN's) for the sole purpose of allowing folks to pay Federal income tax.
When the IRS learned that one quarter of all of their ITIN's never came back on a Tax Return, and that ITIN's were being accepted by some states for ID (to get a valid Driver License) the IRS acted promptly to halt the abusive practice. (Note: the US Secret Service, like the IRS, is part of the Treasury Department)
In 2003, the IRS notified all 50 Governors with a series of urgent letters. Governors were told by the IRS that the ITIN is not a secure or a verifiable document and that a new policy was to follow. The IRS sent each Governor a letter that directed their State not to accept the ITIN for any purpose, but especially not in connection with the issuing of a Driver License.
NC continues to violate IRS/US Treasury policy by accepting these worthless ITIN's as proper ID (although state officials deny it). Why would a wanted criminal, an illegal alien, or an Al-Qaeda operative risk getting caught with a fake Driver License, when North Carolina officials have made it so easy to obtain the genuine article?
Congressman James Sensenbrenner's REAL ID Act (HR 418) has now passed the House and is facing a stiff fight in the Senate. It is a start, but action at all levels of government on the must occur if we are to protect the integrity of our identifying documents and better secure our safety.
C'mon, NC, get real with our security!
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.