Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Loophole lets wrong people get plates; Immigrants lacking licenses can get them, so what's to stop terrorists?

...“We don't want to help anybody do anything illegal, but all you have to do is fill out a form and pay $11 – and they usually pay cash,” Chief Deputy Recorder Anita Mather said, noting that La Raza filed several of the forms as recently as Friday.

“This is an issue that we're aware of, but our hands are tied,” Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesman Graig Lubsen said, noting the certificates are normally used to license vehicles owned by legitimate companies, not to people who may or may not have a legal driver's license.

Quinones, meanwhile, said she's just trying to help her clients comply with the law. Some may be here illegally, she said, but all use their real names on the applications. They need to be able to drive, she said, and it's better they do so with legitimate plates and registration. Her organization, which means “the race (or people) united,” was founded in 1999 and has no affiliation with the national organization of the same name, she said. Quinones, who also helps clients with taxes, insurance, English and other needs, estimated she may have helped file 100 certificates with McGauley's office.

State Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, who chairs the body's Committee on Homeland Security, said he was shocked to learn of how easily people can legally obtain license plates, giving them the right to drive with no visible reason to suspect a problem. “This isn't right; it almost defeats everything we're trying to do with homeland security,” he added – including facial-recognition software used to screen applicants for driver's licenses, but not plates.

This story may be about illegal Hispanic immigrants, he said. But the same loophole could just as easily be exploited by terrorists – which is why he got on the phone to a Homeland Security official as soon as I told him what was hiding in plain sight in a seemingly innocuous storefront on Broadway...

[Full Article]