WASHINGTON, April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Maine remains the last holdout resisting implementation of the federal REAL ID Act, which requires all states to comply with uniform standards for issuing and securing driver's licenses. Failure to comply will result in Mainers being unable to use their licenses as a valid form of ID to board airplanes or enter federal buildings beginning next month.
Maine is one of just seven states that continue to prevent illegal aliens from receiving licenses and state-issued ID cards. Even as state officials resist REAL ID requirements to verify that license applicants are legal U.S. residents, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had busted a criminal operation that was bringing in illegal aliens from other states to obtain Maine licenses.
"A driver's license is much more than a document certifying that the holder is qualified to operate a motor vehicle," noted Dan Stein , president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "It is the de facto document used by most Americans to prove their identity. All states have an obligation to take reasonable measures to ensure that the people to whom they issue these documents are who they claim to be, and are legal U.S. residents."
The tragedy of 9/11 began in Maine, where Mohammad Atta passed through airport security at the Portland Jetport without attracting attention because lax issuance standards had permitted him to obtain a valid Florida license. The ease with which licenses and other government issued ID could be obtained by anyone was cited by the 9/11 Commission as a serious threat to homeland security.
"Compliance with REAL ID is not the place for states to draw a line in the sand resisting federal mandates," said Stein. "The threat posed by failing to secure these identity documents is real. Nor does REAL ID pose a threat to personal privacy. No one has a right to have the state validate a false identity, or ignore illegal presence in the country.
"We urge Maine to join with the rest of the country in adopting license issuance policies that safeguard homeland security and ensure that only legal U.S. residents can obtain these vital identity documents," Stein concluded.
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest and oldest immigration reform group. With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.