My experience with Real ID began on Dec. 20, 1948, in Trieste, Italy. My father was in the D-Day invasion, fought across Europe and was part of the post-war occupation in Italy. I was born after my mother joined him there. Both of my parents were born in Kentucky, but at that time children born abroad to American citizens weren’t automatically citizens at birth. I was naturalized, “retroactive to my birth” when I was 10.

I recently received a letter from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles informing me that I might have difficulties when I renew my driver’s license. I called and was told me that the last name on my naturalization papers does not match the name on my driver’s license. I told them I was a child when I was naturalized and that I have a certified copy of my marriage license. That wasn’t good enough. I was told to get new naturalization papers — with my married name — and that “people do it all the time.”

People do not get new naturalization papers “all the time.” Besides, with all that paperwork, it costs $345.

My state legislator, Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, called Maine’s secretary of state, Matthew Dunlap, who personally interceded on my behalf.

Real ID creates mayhem for people not conveniently born in a modern American hospital. That includes foreign-born people like myself, as well as many of our older rural residents.

The 9/11 terrorists had legitimate federal visas. The Real ID law doesn’t affect that process, but it does create a bureaucratic bubble that guarantees inefficiency, not security.

I also went through a paperwork nightmare when I made an inquiry about Social Security benefits. The Social Security office in Augusta copied all my documents — all of them are original — and sent them to Homeland Security in Buffalo, N.Y. Someone in Homeland Security replied that it “could not confirm my birth nor that I had ever lived in the United States.”

Does that give you confidence? I have graduated from schools, owned property, married and had children in this country.

I was told to take all pertinent paperwork to the Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Homeland Security in South Portland. Which I did, and got the issue of my citizenship resolved. But that isn’t good enough for Real ID.

A friend, whose parents came to Maine as minors when their parents moved here in the 1920s, had to take her mother from a nursing home to be fingerprinted. Because of her severe arthritis, however, the fingerprints weren’t clear. She was told to take her mother back for additional prints. Then-Sen. Olympia Snowe interceded on her behalf.

A lot of people who live in the 2nd Congressional District are born in Canada. They all face the same issue.

Feel safer?

Helen Stevens lives in Gardiner.

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