The lead story on WCTV-TV in Tallahassee at 6:00 PM on Thursday March 7, 2013 was this:
State Lawmakers Hope to Reverse International Driver Law (click for news story)
What this legislation, which easily passed both the House and Senate committees, seeks to do is to remove the requirement foreign visitors get an “international driver license” in order to drive in Florida. From all appearances, it will pass and be signed by the governor. I support this law, which was filed to provide relief to foreign visitors- but Florida citizens are also in need of relief for driver licenses.
“We actually reversed a law and kind of made some good balance out of it, making it better for those that are visiting and those that are long term residents here,” said State Rep. Lake Ray, a republican out of Jacksonville.
It was another Republican, Carey Baker, that gave us REAL ID in 2008. That’s the law that makes it impossible and/or very costly for Florida citizens to just renew their licenses. Despite our work on this since 2010, it remains on the books. We’ve run into opposition on this from everyone from former House members to the current governor.
The above story comes not so long after a January 31, 2013 WCTV story about illegal aliens getting Florida REAL ID licenses.:
Illegal Immigrants in Big Bend Await Reforms (click for news story). Here’s an excerpt:
“First thing, I got my job,” Magaly Rasalio said, “and go back to school. I applied right away. Got my drivers license. I did that too.”
They applied for “employment authorization documents” in the wake of an executive order signed by the President last summer.
In that story, I watched as two admitted illegal immigrants showed Florida driver licenses they had recently obtained. Of course, the licenses were REAL ID compliant, as there is no other option here.
This situation reminds me of something I saw one day at the Collier County Courthouse. Law enforcement officers are required to lock up their weapons in the courthouse. The simpletons (private security) operating the metal detectors always made us walk through, and in my case when I worked investigations wearing a suit, I had to lift my pant legs even though I carried my gun on my hip. My handcuffs, etc. always set off the detector. Enough about that part of the stupidity. A uniformed Sergeant and I were walking in and he saw an older woman going in the wrong way and bypassing the metal detector. He called out to her, but she kept going. He then went to stop her, and was intercepted by one of the security guards. They apparently didn’t care that someone was entering unscreened, but if a police officer tried to stop the person, they were quick to stop him. Idiotic behavior by hard-timing the person trying to follow the law.
With the repeal of the requirement for the international license, as Rep. Ray noted, it is easy for a long-term resident to drive on their foreign license. With the advent of documents made available to illegal aliens via an executive order, it is now a breeze for them to obtain a Florida driver license. The standards under REAL ID for them are different than those for citizens- the main issue for REAL ID is “legal presence”, which is now satisfied thanks to the aforementioned executive order. In so doing, illegal immigrants (all immigrants actually) do not need to produce a birth certificate. If in doubt, go to the state’s REAL ID portal Gather Go Get and type in some info as if you were a non-immigrant. If your federal document is an I-571, then you also do not need a Social Security number (although I’d hope illegals would not have one). You still need two proofs of residence, but as it says on the website:internet printouts or faxes of these documents are acceptable. When I researched this part of the law, I was able to dummy one of these up in about 10 minutes using photo editing software.
Proponents of REAL ID say it is to keep us safe. How much safer are we by allowing long term resident foreigners to drive here? Ditto illegal aliens? In actuality, we are just as safe, as having a power bill on file at the DMV will not prevent a terror plot.
As noted, this is a battle I’ve been fighting for almost 3 years now. After losing money on this cause for the past two years, I didn’t have enough money to go to the Capital last fall/winter to get the REAL ID repeal bill filed in both chambers. Our best hope now is to attach some relief legislation as an amendment. What I’m looking at now is a two-license system that is allowed under REAL ID- one is a “federal identification” and the other is not. I have drafted language to amend a bill and will be working on this as time and money allows.
I have to say it is disappointing to see others get a free pass here while those of us that live here legally do not get the same benefit. It’s past time for the Legislature to protect the rights of Floridians against terrible federal laws like REAL ID.
Our lobbying team consists of John Hallman and Paul Henry. It is essential to have a voice in our legislature 12 months a year, as the legislative process starts NOW. If you wait too long on an issue, it will pass you by.
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