46 out of 56 U.S. states and territories not in compliance with REAL ID

Published 23 December 2009

The original deadline for compliance with the Real ID Act was May 2008; 56 U.S. states and territories were not in compliance as of that date, so DHS extended the deadline to 1 January 2010; as the deadline approached, DHS realized that 46 of the 56 states and territories were not in compliance, so the deadline has been extended yet again, to April 2011; as of October 2009, 25 states have approved either resolutions or binding legislation not to participate in the program

We reported the other day about the decision by DHS to push back a pending deadline for state compliance with the REAL ID Act to May of 2011. The decision averted the chaos that would have ensued on 1 January as people carrying newer, noncompliant state-issued IDs would have been unable to use them for federal purposes such as boarding commercial airline flights.

Security Management’s Joseph Straw writes that 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. These security features include biometric information and RFID capabilities. 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. There are five other, non-driver’s license-related requirements in the law.

The law is the result of the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers were able to obtain state-issued IDs through legitimate means — but by using fraudulent breeder documents.

States bitterly complained that most of the law’s implementation costs are left to states. States did not just complain – they acted: As of October 2009, 25 states have approved either resolutions or binding legislation not to participate in the program

Straw notes that, including the “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 1 January 2010 deadline for issuing new compliant licenses, according to a DHS statement (note that 56 U.S. states and territories were not in compliance by the original deadline of May 2008 – hence the extension to 1 January 2010).

Earlier this year DHS secretary Janet Napolitano – a fierce opponent of Real ID during her tenure as governor of Arizona — endorsed pending legislation called the PASS ID Act, which would remove the requirement that states maintain electronic copies of breeder documents. Straw writes that 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.

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