Editorial: Homeland Security concerned about illegals driving legally

The acting head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has ordered all the agencies under his purview to review the ramifications of state laws that allow illegal aliens to obtain driver authorization cards and restrict sharing data with immigration enforcement authorities.

Nevada is one of those 14 states.

Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 303 in 2013 and it was signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Ostensibly, the bill was intended to reduce the number of uninsured motorists on the roads, because it is difficult to obtain car insurance if one can’t legally drive.

But the bill, now ensconced in law as NRS 481.063, also dictates that the DMV “shall not release any information relating to legal presence or any other information relating to or describing immigration status, nationality or citizenship from a file or record relating to a request for or the issuance of a license, identification card or title or registration of a vehicle to any person or to any federal, state or local governmental entity for any purpose relating to the enforcement of immigration laws.”

This apparently was intended to assuage illegal aliens of the notion that obtaining a driver authorization card — which allows one to drive in Nevada but cannot be used for such things as boarding an aircraft — would subject them to actual enforcement of existing immigration law.

A March article in The Nevada Independent reported that there were at the time 49,000 active driver authorization cards issued in the state and another 3,500 learners’ permits for the cards.

What prompted Chad Wolf, the acting director of Homeland Security, to issue his memo this past week was the passage of similar laws in New York and New Jersey recently, according to The Daily Caller.

“Accordingly, I am instructing each operational component to conduct an assessment of the impact of these laws, so that the Department is prepared to deal with and counter these impacts as we protect the homeland,” Wolf’s memo read. Those components include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration.

After passage of the illegal alien driver authorization law in New York numerous county clerks pointed out that such a policy could pave the way for voter fraud, identity theft and even terrorism.

“Laws like New York’s greenlight law have dangerous consequences that have far reaches beyond the DMV,” Homeland Security spokeswomen Heather Swift was quoted as saying. “These types of laws make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents and also prevent DHS investigators from accessing important records that help take down child pornography and human trafficking rings and combat everything from terrorism to drug smuggling.”

Wolf’s memo ordered agencies to determine what DMV information is currently available and what the consequences would be if that data were restricted.

“Never before in our history have we seen politicians make such rash and dangerous decisions to end all communication and cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security law enforcement,” The Daily Caller further quoted Swift. “The Secretary is prepared to take every measure necessary to ensure the safety and security of the homeland and we look forward to the recommendations of our agents and officers in the field.”

Las Vegas newspaper columnist Victor Joecks pointed out in an April 2018 column that the DMV uses the same forms for those getting a driver authorization card as for those getting a regular driver’s license. At the bottom of the form is a voter registration application. The form asks whether the applicant is a citizen and old enough to vote, but requires no proof whatsoever. Neither does the Secretary of State’s office, which processes the voter registration.

Highway safety concerns are important, but state abrogation of federal immigration law and voter registration integrity is hardly justifiable.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Editorial: Passage of Question 5 will do more harm than good

Question 5 — the Automatic Voter Registration Initiative — on the November ballot is a pointless and costly endeavor likely to do more harm than good.

The proposal would require the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to automatically send personal information to the registrar of voters so a person can be registered to vote when receiving a driver’s license or making a license change, unless the person affirmatively declines in writing.

It is pointless because the DMV already sends information to the registrar of voters if a person agrees. All Question 5 does is change the system from an “opt in” to an “opt out.” It is a distinction without a discernible difference.

The backers of the initiative argue this will make it more convenient to exercise the right to vote and even save money.

“Voting is a fundamental right,” the argument for passage reads. “It is our most important way to guarantee our rights and freedoms — and it’s a responsibility to be taken seriously by both the people and the government. Yet our outdated voter registration process makes it unnecessarily difficult for eligible Nevada citizens to have their voices heard and leaves our registration system vulnerable to errors. … It will reduce the risk of fraud and lower costs.”

In fact, Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the initiative during the 2017 legislative session, saying, “it extinguishes a fundamental, individual choice — the right of eligible voters to decide for themselves whether they desire to apply to register to vote — forfeiting this basic decision to state government. … the core freedom of deciding whether one wishes to initiate voter registration belongs to the individual, not the government.”

His veto message also said the change “would create an unnecessary risk that people who are not qualified voters may unintentionally apply to vote, subjecting them to possible criminal prosecution, fines, and other legal action.”

As for lowering cost, the fiscal note for Question 5 says it would cost $221,000 to implement and more than $50,000 annually to maintain.

As for reducing errors, the California DMV, which has a similar automatic voter registration system, recently reported it sent 23,000 erroneous voter registrations.

The argument against passage of Question 5 points out, “The proposed ‘Opt Out’ system shifts the responsibility of registering to vote from the individual to the government. Nevada residents who do not want to be registered will have to affirmatively ‘Opt Out’ or have their names and addresses automatically added to voter rolls and become public information.”

It also notes there is no evidence this change would increase voter turnout.

There is no evidence this measure will accomplish anything other than increased opportunities for errors. We shouldn’t try to drag motorists kicking and screaming into the voting booth.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

A whole new perspective on driver’s license expiration date

Waiting at the DMV

Everything in the grocery store has a shelf-life, sell-by or, worst of all, expiration date.

Now, I know how that feels. I recently renewed my driver’s license. Nevada is transitioning to driver’s licenses that are good for eight years instead of four, but not for those over the age of 65. We can only get licenses good for four years. Do they think we might expire before eight years? Become too infirm or decrepit to handle a couple of tons of steel at 80 mph on the freeway?

Sounds like age discrimination.

Real ID

I’ll have you know that I can still take to the road and maneuver as well as any well coordinated, rapid-reflex whippersnapper — so long as I have the appropriate cushions and pillows and lidocaine patches to relieve the arthritis. Yes, there are 100,000 miles on the odometer and far more on the driver of the SUV with the vanity plate “4TH ST8,” which is a reference to Edmund Burke’s description of the press gallery in Parliament in 1787 as the Fourth Estate. The other estates of Parliament were the royalty and the church and the commoners. And no I wasn’t there to report on it.

 

At least the DMV offers a senior discount. During the transition those born in even-numbered years receive an eight-year license upon renewal, which must be in person at a DMV office. The fee is $42.25. Those born in odd-numbered years receive a four-year license and may renew by internet, mail or kiosk. The fee is $23.25.

Standard license

In 2018 everyone except the geezers receive eight-year licenses upon renewal. At least the fee for those in their dotage is only $18.25, though it is only for those four precious years.

At least these days you don’t have to spend a large portion of those four years waiting in line at the DMV. You can make an appointment on your computer. The DMV gives you options for appointment times in a couple of days.

You can also opt for a standard license or the Real ID, which you will need to board an aircraft after Oct. 1, 2020. To get the Real ID you need to bring one document for proof of identity, such as birth certificate or passport, one document for proof of Social Security number (I still carry the card I got at age 16 so I could work in the oil fields, the one that says, “For Social Security and tax purposed — not for identification.” That disclaimer was removed in 1972.), two documents to prove your Nevada residential address, such as utility bills, and a completed driver’s license application form.

Once you’ve made the appointment you get text reminders on your cell phone.

So, I made an appointment and dutifully drove to a DMV office and arrived at the appointed hour, only to realize I had left all the documents required for the Real ID on my desk at home. Did I mention something about dotage? I canceled that appointment via cell phone, drove home and made another appointment for the next week.

With documents in hand, I arrived 15 minutes before the next duly appointed hour and stood in line at the appointment desk for an exhausting three minutes. All signed in, I sat in the gymnasium-sized waiting room until the last four digits of my cell phone were called almost precisely at the appointed hour.

An efficient young lady made copies of all the paperwork entered data in her computer terminal and efficiently administered the vision test — at least after I explained to her that I was bionic. The cataract surgeon had replaced my original lens with ones in which the right eye handles distance and the left one close items. “Monovision,” she said, and adjusted the device accordingly.

I was then directed to the photograph section where there was one person in line ahead of me. Photo taken, current license perforated to make it invalid and handed an 8-by-10 sheet of paper to stuff into my already overstuffed wallet — one tends to collect stuff to stuff in one’s wallet over the years — as a temporary license until the new one arrived in the mail about a week later. I was out of there in less than half an hour with my four-year license.

There is something about the whole thing that gives added and ominous meaning to the term expiration date.

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