The Need for Secure Identification

"At the heart of any Nation's immigration policy is the imperative to know who lives and works within its national border." — Quadrennial Homeland Security Review 2010.

In an increasingly security-conscious America, a secure identification system is crucial to protect the identities of U.S. citizens. The United States offers several methods for this purpose, including birth certificates, Social Security Numbers, and passports. However, none are so commonly used for proof of identity as the driver's license, turning its significance into much more than proof of legal permission to drive.

Without any other government-issued photo ID to rely on (except for the federal passport, which most people either don't have or find inconvenient to carry around with them), it is commonly inferred that carrying a driver's license or other state ID means the bearer is legally present in the United States. In reality, that's not so.

As a result of laxity in licensing, all of the 9/11 hijackers had driver's licenses or state non-driver's identification cards, which they were able to use when renting housing, opening bank accounts, and boarding planes. For example, Hijacker Hanni Hanjour and Khalid Al-Midhar obtained Virginia licenses by hiring an illegal alien to co-sign their residency forms and listing his address as theirs. The day after they got their licenses, they sponsored two other hijackers, Salem Al-Hamzi and Majed Moqed, to get licenses, too.1

In addition to the driver's license insinuating legal status in the United States, the social security number is often used as proof of eligibility to work. However, many are stolen and used to gain employment without being properly checked, acting as the main magnet bringing the illegal immigrants into our country.


End Note:

  1. "Two Charged in Scheme that Helped Terrorists," Washington Post, October 2, 2001.