REAL ID Deadline Pushed to 2011

By Joseph Straw

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has pushed back a pending deadline for state compliance with the REAL ID Act to May of 2011, averting the chaos that would have erupted Jan. 1 if people carrying newer, noncompliant state-issued IDs were unable to use them for federal purposes, like boarding commercial airline flights.

The 2005 law requires that applicants for state-issued IDs including driver’s licenses demonstrate legal U.S. residence and requires that states incorporate security features into ID cards.

The law also mandates that states store electronic copies of “breeder” documents like birth certificates and Social Security cards, so that application materials can be checked against copies of originals.

The law stems from 9-11 hijackers’ success in obtaining state-issued IDs through legitimate means but using fraudulent breeder documents.

Most of the law’s implementation costs are left to states, 13 of which either passed resolutions expressing disapproval or passed laws forbidding state compliance outright.

Including “revolt” states, a total of 46 of the 56 U.S. states and territories subject to REAL ID would have been noncompliant as of the old Jan. 1 deadline for issuing new compliant licenses, according to a DHS statement.

Earlier this year DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano endorsed pending legislation called the PASS ID Act, which would remove the requirement that states maintain electronic copies of breeder documents. PASS ID would further set a 2016 deadline for total compliance of all licenses regardless of issue date. That deadline is a year ahead of the REAL ID Act’s, but PASS ID would eliminate a series of the current law’s interim deadlines.

♦ Photo by mtsofan/Flickr


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