If the billions of dollars that taxpayers are being ordered to shell out to create the Real ID driver's license verification system actually protect this country against terrorism, it will have been money well spent.
But if its critics are accurate, it will be nothing less than an expensive headache. And, unfortunately, the people who would be least inconvenienced would be illegal immigrants and those intent on doing harm to our country. A mega-scale bureaucratic database with thousands of human keepers is bound to be rife with flaws and vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, terrorist networks today are savvy, and a counterfeiting or black market system for stolen IDs would surely provide them all the tools they need.
But what the Real ID Act would do is create a great deal of stress and inconvenience for many legal residents. Just ask 10 of your friends if they know where their birth certificate and Social Security cards are and you'll get a sense of the problem that awaits not only them, but the good folks at the DMV who will be dealing with thousands of those Nevadans. That translates to long lines of frustrated and angry people.
And when push comes to shove, will America really refuse benefits and travel privileges to legal Americans unable to produce those documents, even if it's a grandmother whose birth certificate no longer exists?
The problems with Real ID are philosophical as well as practical. It's not only an invasion of privacy, but another unfunded federal mandate that will cost Nevada residents millions of dollars. Republicans, including then-Congressman and now-Governor Jim Gibbons, pushed the bill forward despite arguments from those, including Nevada's Sen. Harry Reid, who predicted the nightmares it would cause states.
Even some who supported the act gave less than glowing opinions of its effectiveness. The spokesman for Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg, for example, was quoted as saying "This act just made it a little tougher for terrorists to get a state-issued driver's license."
No wonder Americans are so disillusioned with the federal bureaucracy.
Nevada lawmakers should join the growing ranks of states who are sending strong messages to Washington that Real ID needs to be repealed.