Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security will delay enforcement of the REAL ID Act at airports until Jan. 22, 2018.
“Bottom line up front: Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to board a commercial domestic flight. Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents,” said Sec. Johnson in a statement.
Enforcement of the policy had previously been delayed until Jan. 10, 2016. However, this would have meant that airline passengers from as many as 11 states would have begun being turned away this year by Transportation Security Administration agents at airports unless they could provide an alternative form of ID, such as a passport.
Sec. Johnson said, “Right now, no individual needs to adjust travel plans, or rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel. Until January 22, 2018, residents of all states will still be able to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel.”
“Finally, we know that some states must change their laws to comply with the REAL ID Act,” added Johnson. “I urge state government leaders to take immediate action to comply with the REAL ID Act, to ensure the continued ability of their residents to fly unimpeded. It is time to move toward final compliance with this law.”
The 2005 REAL ID Act, parts of which have been delayed in their implementation many times, requires federal agencies to reject the use of state-issued ID cards that fail to meet minimum standards recommended by the 9/11 Commission as a form of identification.
Sec. Johnson says that Real ID Act enforcement has been activated at nuclear power plants, military bases, and most federal facilities. According to KOAT-TV, some visitors with non-compliant driver’s licenses were turned away at the museum and gift shop of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range this week.
Some states have resisted REAL ID Act implementation on either cost-related grounds, with critics calling it an unfunded federal mandate, and on civil liberties grounds, with critics opposing national standards that they feel might be incremental steps towards a national ID card.
“At present, 23 states are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act, and the Department has used its authority to grant states extensions when they demonstrate steps toward compliance. Thus, 27 states and territories have been granted extensions for a period of time to become compliant. Six states and territories – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa – are noncompliant and do not currently have extensions,” said Sec. Johnson.
In a 2005 speech before Congress stating his opposition to the Real ID Act, former Republican Congressman Ron Paul said according to Antiwar.com, “The REAL ID Act establishes a national ID card by mandating that states include certain minimum identification standards on driver’s licenses. It contains no limits on the government’s power to impose additional standards. Indeed, it gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally add requirements as he sees fit.”
Dr. Paul continued, predicting the power struggle between the federal government and some states that is currently unfolding, “Supporters claim it is not a national ID because it is voluntary. However, any state that opts out will automatically make non-persons out of its citizens. The citizens of that state will be unable to have any dealings with the federal government because their ID will not be accepted. They will not be able to fly or to take a train. In essence, in the eyes of the federal government they will cease to exist. It is absurd to call this voluntary.“