DHS Eases REAL ID Implementation Requirements

By Matthew Harwood

The Department of Homeland Security will ease compliance requirements for the REAL ID Act again, reports The Washington Post, because states report the plan is too expensive and complicated.

In a recent meeting, DHS policy official Richard C. Barth told state officials to expect Real ID's price tag to fall by "billions of dollars" as DHS eases previous demands that the new licenses be renewed every five years, that expensive, tamper-resistant materials be used to create the ID cards, and that each state develop its own document verification systems, those officials said.

Another possible concession to states may be a further easing of the plan’s implementation deadline.

Chertoff had earlier announced that DHS would waive the original May 2008 deadline and set a new target of 2013 for getting all 245 million U.S. driver's licenses to comply with a national standard. Now, DHS may extend the original deadline by a decade, to 2018 for drivers older than 40 or 50 to reduce the costs associated with a projected surge of customers at state motor vehicle departments, the officials said.

Civil liberties advocates say DHS’ accommodations are an effort to keep an unpopular program alive. In a press release issued last Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union said:

State officials across the country were told in a private conference call with the Department of Homeland Security that Real ID restrictions on Americans would be weakened to the point that they would negate the original intent of the program, those officials told the ACLU. Crucial parts of original DHS plans for Real ID have been scrapped, including the requirements that all airline passengers show their Real IDs at the gate. In an effort to save the doomed program from failure, driver’s licenses would no longer have to follow a strict national standard, state officials said, recounting what DHS Assistant Secretary Richard Barth told them in a telephone conference call last month.

According to the Post, eight states have opted out of the program while nine states have passed resolutions in opposition to the REAL ID Act with more states expected to follow suit.



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