Press Releases and Statements

Sensenbrenner Statement Responding to DHS Secretary Napolitano’s Comments about Repealing REAL ID

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Washington, April 22, 2009 | Wendy Riemann ((202) 225-5101) | comments

Former Judiciary Committee Chairman and author of the REAL ID legislation, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), issued the following statement today in response to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s remarks to the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Conference about repealing REAL ID:

I am angered to hear Secretary Napolitano’s comments today about repealing the REAL ID Act.  REAL ID is a necessary program for keeping America safe, it is the will of Congress and also a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

“Four years ago, I shepherded this bill through Congress to protect our nation from another 9/11 type attack.  The bill enhances our border security while disrupting terrorist travel.  Additionally, REAL ID makes it more difficult for terrorists and criminals to alter their identity by counterfeiting documents, such as a birth certificate, or using a false social security number to legally obtain a valid ID.  Without being able to change their identity, terrorists are easier to detect and their plans easier for law enforcement to thwart – making everyone safer. 

“The REAL ID Act was recommended by the 9/11 Commission as a necessary component to keeping America safe.  As the Commission said in its report, ‘fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft.’  We learned in 2001, that the 9/11 plane hijackers each had multiple forms of ID from various states.  In the hands of a terrorist, a U.S. driver’s license, or other form of valid ID, proves just as dangerous as a bomb.

“We absolutely cannot just hand out state drivers’ licenses to anyone, whether they are here legally or illegally.  Mandating proof of legally living in the U.S. for anyone seeking to obtain a driver’s license is a critical and necessary step to preserving the safety of our citizens and protecting our country from terrorists looking to exploit our system. 

“To date, states have received approximately $130 million from the federal government towards REAL ID implementation.  While additional funding will be needed to further implement REAL ID, this program has a positive return on investment by eliminating waste and reducing fraud. 

“When the Democrats took over the majority in the 110th Congress, they said they wanted to implement all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  I am highly disappointed that they are going back on their word by repealing this important recommendation, and substituting it with a weaker, less safe program that provides terrorists with too many avenues to attack.  I hope they will reconsider, and hope a time will not come when they will regret this substitution.”


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