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House Votes to Set Standards for Driver’s Licenses to Thwart Terrorists

Ryan Cosponsored Measure to Target Terrorist Travel

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February 10, 2005 | Kate Matus ((202) 226-7326) | comments
WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today approved H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act – legislation cosponsored by First District Congressman Paul Ryan and introduced by a fellow Wisconsin representative, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, that targets terrorists’ ability to travel in the United States and increases homeland security.  Ryan voted for this legislation, which passed the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 261-161.


“The terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 used driver’s licenses from five different states and took advantage of holes in our system that allowed them to travel easily within our borders.  It makes sense to set basic standards for licenses or ID cards that could be accepted for boarding planes.  It’s also common sense to update our laws so we aren’t letting potential terrorists or those who aid terrorists operate within our borders,” Ryan said.

Major components of H.R. 418 include the following:

  • Sets minimum document and issuance standards for state driver’s licenses or ID cards that could be accepted by a federal agency (such as for boarding planes). States would also have to verify that a person is in the United States legally before issuing a driver’s license or ID card that could be accepted by a federal agency. In addition, temporary driver’s licenses for temporary visitors to the U.S. would last only for the period of their stay – or one year, if their stay is indefinite.

  • Updates the nation’s asylum laws to prevent abuse by terrorists. Current law and judicial precedent prevent the U.S. government from asking foreign governments what evidence they have about the terrorist activities of asylum applicants. H.R. 418 corrects this and would require asylum applicants accused of being members or supporters of guerilla, militant, or terrorist organizations to meet a higher burden of proof. 

  • Strengthens our current laws regarding deportation of those found guilty of participating in terrorist activity. Under current law, not all terrorism-related grounds for keeping an alien out of the U.S. are also grounds for deportation if that person has succeeded in entering the U.S. H.R. 418 provides that an alien who provides funds or other material support to a terrorist organization is inadmissible and deportable if he knew, or reasonably should have known, that he was giving to a terrorist organization. 
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