LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Consular ID allowance empowers criminals

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Writer Cheryl Chumley notes that critics of Illinois’ move to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants will provide “a gateway for forged documents” (“No English, no problem: Illinois illegal immigrants poised to get driver’s licenses,” Web, Nov. 1). This is all too true. Illinois joins a number of states this year that enacted legislation requiring their respective motor vehicle agencies to issue driver’s licenses to those who are unable or unwilling to provide proof of lawful status. One similarity among the legislation enacted this year is that they all required the acceptance of a consular identification card as proof of identity.

The challenge for those motor vehicle agencies is that they still have to perform the job of verifying an applicant’s identity before issuing a driver’s license. And they have to do so by relying on consular identification cards that are not secure, difficult to verify and easy to counterfeit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation testified before Congress in 2003 that “The Department of Justice and the FBI have concluded that the Matricula Consular is not a reliable form of identification, due to the nonexistence of any means of verifying the true identity of the card holder.”

When the FBI testified in 2003, Congress was conducting a thorough review of identity management and security in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, state motor vehicle agencies, alongside the federal government, have made impressive gains in protecting the identity of driver’s license holders from fraud. The challenges and threats remain the same today.

Relying on documentation that is not secure creates a garbage-in-garbage-out system. It makes it very easy for criminals, unsafe drivers or anyone seeking to hide their identity to use a consular identification card to fraudulently obtain a valid driver’s license. If state legislatures are concerned about public safety and security, a serious effort should be undertaken to review what foreign documentation can be securely accepted as proof of identity. Regardless of the politics, no one wants to create a recipe for fraud.

BRIAN ZIMMER

President, Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License

Washington

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