It looks like Gov. Martin O’Malley has backed off a proposal to implement a two-tier system of driver’s licenses in Maryland that would have created one license for documented, legal citizens and another identification card for undocumented, illegal immigrants.
Instead, the state will implement a system by 2010 complying with the federal Real ID standards requiring proof of citizenship prior to issuance of a driver’s license. Once in place, anyone applying for a driver’s license in Maryland will need to produce a birth certificate, Social Security card, passport or other valid forms of identification available only to citizens of America.
Maryland is one of only seven states that does not require proof of legal citizenship and some have said it’s become a haven for illegal immigrants. In fact, I’m told Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration processes 2,000 out-of-country appointments for licenses each week.
The two-tier system would have granted driver’s licenses to those who could provide documentation of citizenship and a secondary license to those who could not, which would have at least addressed some of the federal government’s safety concerns.
The day before O’Malley backtracked and distanced himself from the two-tier system, Harford County state Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican representing the southern District 34, issued the governor’s office a strongly-worded letter recommending he abandon pursuit of the two-tier approach.
January 15, 2008
The Honorable Martin O’Malley
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
Honorable Governor O’Malley:
It is my understanding that your Administration has proposed a two-tiered drivers license system in an effort to comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. I strongly urge you to change your mind on the two-tier system because we need to protect Marylanders and all Americans from the very real security risks and terrorism we face.
You may recall that one of the 9-11 hijackers was stopped by a Maryland State Trooper. His visa had expired, but his driver’s license was still valid. The trooper had to let him go. We can’t let this happen again.
I recognize your interest in homeland security and I hope that you would keep with the conceptual framework adopted by the 9-11 Commission; a two-tiered system is in sharp contrast to the commission’s adopted report.
Maryland should not knowingly provide legal documentation to people operating outside of our laws. It represents a clear security threat. I would hope that you recognize this and withdraw your two-tier system. Hopefully we can work together to come up with a compliant measure that does not flaunt valid security concerns.
A day later, I’m certain the Jacobs camp is happy with the outcome and O’Malley’s change of heart.