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NAKASEC Joint Statement on New York State’s Endorsement of the REAL ID Act

By October 27, 2007One Comment

October 27, 2007
For Immediate Release

EunSook Lee, NAKASEC, 323.937.3703
Kat Choi, KRCC, 773. 506. 9158
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323.937.3718
Yu Soung Mun, YKASEC, 718.460.5600

NAKASEC Joint Statement on New York State’s Endorsement of the REAL ID Act
By the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center
Korean Resource Center
YKASEC – Empowering the Korean American Community

Governor Eliot Spitzer Retreats from Being a Real Leader to a Misguided Leader

The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium and its affiliates – the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles, the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center in Chicago, and YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community in New York – are shocked and enraged by New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer’s decision to succumb to misguided opposition and anti-immigrant rhetoric against his recently announced Drivers License policy. In doing so, Governor Spitzer traded away a sound, practical policy that represented a win for all New Yorkers for his own short-term political escape.

Governor Spitzer’s initial announcement five weeks ago that New York State would follow a ‘One Drivers’ License for All’ policy presented a positive vision of America’s future by recognizing immigrants’ unparalleled contributions. By contrast, Governor Spitzer’s action today will result in irreparable damages to our nation as well as to New York State by creating a multi-tiered licensing system. Once the REAL ID Act is implemented, the multi-tiered system will render undocumented immigrants who hold New York State drivers’ licenses vulnerable to discrimination and harassment.

The REAL ID Act is a REAL DISASTER. Political posturing engendered the REAL ID Act, an impractical and costly policy. Estimated to cost Americans 11 billion dollars to implement, the REAL ID Act will mean that states must forego fiscal discipline. States forced to implement the REAL ID Act are doing so without adequate planning and negotiation for funding. The REAL ID Act also faces widespread criticism over implementation problems, privacy concerns and civil rights issues. Moreover, Governor Spitzer’s actions run counter to the trend of many states rightly voicing their opposition to the implementation of the REAL ID Act. To date seventeen states have already passed legislation opposing the REAL ID Act and many others have expressed serious concerns.

Governor Spitzer’s actions are contradictory. Governor Spitzer, himself, had stated that his new drivers’ license policy would increase security by adopting new forms of security measures such as a new document verification system, computerized photo comparison technology, and anti-fraud measures. Under the Department of Motor Vehicles, it would take from four to six weeks to issue a new drivers’ license in New York because each application would undergo rigorous security checks at a level similar to U.S. passport applications. As far as strengthening security, New York State does not need to implement the REAL ID Act. Governor Spitzer’s about-face suggests that he has simply given in to the pressure of vocal anti-immigrant forces. Rather than embracing immigrants for the immeasurable contributions they have made to New York State and the nation, Governor Spitzer is siding with the alarmists who equate immigrants as terrorists and seek to discriminate and deny basic rights to them.

NAKASEC and its affiliates, particularly its New York center, YKASEC – Empowering the Korean American Community will encourage community members to weigh in decisively against Governor Spitzer’s policy shift. The REAL ID Act is bad policy for all Americans and New York State should not become the misguided leader that paves the way for the implementation of the REAL ID Act.
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