By Tate Fegley & Jackson B. Archer
Immigration policy is perhaps the single best example of the federal government’s failure to lead, follow, or get out of the way. The feds refuse to lead with common-sense reform, refuse to follow or enforce the laws already on the books, and refuse to get out of the way when states attempt to take matters into their own hands. The recent 844 1075-page immigration reform bill has received extra attention lately due to its provision for a National ID system though the E-Verify program. Currently E-Verify is implemented to various degrees by states to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants, with a success rate of only 46%. But the proposed legislation would integrate it with state drivers’ license photographs and information, essentially creating a National ID database with everything but a card. With the Justice Department spying on journalists and the IRS targeting Tea Party groups, it doesn’t take much imagination to see the incredible potential for abuse a National ID system would bring.
With this in mind, it’s worth remembering that 8 years ago Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which is supposed to establish a national ID card by centralizing control over state-issued drivers’ licenses. Why do the feds need this new law if REAL ID is already on the books, you might ask? For the simple reason that 25 states, including Idaho, nullified REAL ID. To avoid the appearance of defeat, the feds are pretending to help out the states by granting deadline extensions.
Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment center offered the following assessment last December:
Here we go again. Another Real ID “deadline” from the Department of Homeland Security has been looming over states like a black cloud. The deadline for everyone to comply with the federal act? January 15, 2013. And “this time,” the DHS was serious about it.
The end result, though, is the same as it has been the last few times. As they’ve done every other time, the deadline has been “postponed” because states refused to comply.
The feds huff and puff, and threaten and warn. But DHS isn’t much more than a little doggie with a big bark. State nullification has bite.
January 15 of this year came and went, and Idaho is still in charge of its own drivers’ licenses. Advocates of freedom from federal intrusion have learned something too, as Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer pointed out:
[W]e are putting up with the federal government on so many fronts, and nearly every month they come out with another harebrained scheme…we found that it’s best to just tell them to go to hell and run the state the way we want to run our state.
Montana’s nullification of REAL ID was, according to Boldin, the first in modern times. Some states, including Idaho, have acquiesced in certain aspects of REAL ID. But the fact that the feds are visibly frustrated by continual, heroic state resistance is the best evidence that nullification is real and it works.
States such as Kansas and Missouri are also exercising their sovereignty as expressed in the 10th Amendment, passing legislation that refuses to recognize any federal laws that violate the 2nd Amendment. In Kansas, Governor Brownback signed into law a bill that would require state and local law enforcement to not enforce any federal gun control measures that restrict the individual right to keep and bear arms as understood when Kansas joined the Union in 1861. It also includes criminal penalties for federal agents who try to enforce unconstitutional federal laws. This resulted in Governor Brownback receiving an angry letter from US Attorney General Eric Holder, who, like our friend Sheriff Gary Raney, believes the federal government can do whatever it desires regarding gun legislation.
But despite all of Holder’s machismo, there is very little the feds can do to enforce their unconstitutional gun bans if state and local law enforcement refuse to comply. They simply don’t have the manpower. As long as states like Kansas hold to their resolve to resist federal tyranny, they will win.
And so it seems we have come to a crossroads in American history and have a decision to make. Shall we continue on the road to further centralization of tyrannical power concentrated in a single city on the Potomac? Or will we claim our birthright to self-governance by refusing to bow down to the federal government? The latter option is available to us if we would only commit to using our state and local governments to do their jobs of protecting us from aggressors, both foreign and domestic.