Identity documents

  • Real IDMost states are complying with Real ID, but a few lag behind

    Forty U.S. states and some territories have adopted the Real ID Actrequirements for state driver’s licenses and identification cards, mandated by the federal government. Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington are still considered noncompliant as of October 2014. DHS announced a phased enforcement of the Real ID Act in 2013, and residents of non-complying states are already facing restrictions – such as having to present a passport or birth certificate in order to enter restricted areas in federal facilities or nuclear power plants. These restrictions will only tighten between now and January 2016.

  • TerrorismNYC mayor de Blasio facing criticism for curbing counterterrorism programs

    New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is facing backlash over his decision to curb several counterterrorism programs introduced by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Among other things, de Blasio has restricted the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program; approved issuing municipal IDs of standards lower than those mandated by the federal government’s RealID program; is refusing to reinstate a special surveillance program which targeted Muslim communities in New York; and has also replaced the highly regarded deputy police commissioner for intelligence.

  • Visa controlU.S. student visa program fails to monitor participating schools: Lawmaker

    The number of student visa holders in U.S. colleges grew from 110,000 in 2001 to 524,000 in 2012. Today, more than 9,000 schools in the United States participate in the student visa enrollment program. The list includes reputable universities, but it also includes trade schools such as massage and beauty schools. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced legislation to better monitor schools which attract foreign applicants. “It’s time to close the loopholes and clamp down on schools that have a poor track record with regard to foreign students,” Grassley said.

  • Visa controlDHS lost track of thousands of foreign students in U.S.

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has lost tabs on more than 6,000 foreign students who had entered the United States on student visas which have since expired — effectively vanishing without a trace. One of the major problems relating to student visas is the fact that the U.S. government continues to grant schools the power to accept overseas applications even if the schools have not been accredited by the state and have little academic and administrative oversight.

  • Real IDResidents of six Real ID-noncompliant states to face restrictions

    Massachusetts is one of the six states whose residents are unable to enter restricted parts of federal buildings without another identification card, such as a passport. The REAL ID measure requires states to verify citizenship and update security standards when issuing licenses. Officials in Massachusetts, Maine, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona, and Louisiana say that the REAL ID program will cost millions and that it raises privacy concerns and infringes on state’ rights.

  • BiometricsPhoto-ID security checks flawed: Study

    Passport issuing officers are no better at identifying whether someone is holding a fake passport photo than the average person, new research has revealed. A pioneering study of Australian passport office staff revealed a 15 percent error rate in matching the person to the passport photo they were displaying. In real life this degree of inaccuracy would correspond to the admittance of several thousand travelers bearing fake passports.

  • Real IDArizona voted against complying with Real ID, and state residents now face the consequences

    In 2008, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill (HB 2677), signed by then-Governor Janet Napolitano, prohibiting the state from complying with the Real ID Act. Limits on people without a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, such as no access to federal facilities, will be phased in in three stages – 21 April 2014, 21 July 2014, and 19 January 2015. Those who do not have a Real ID will need a passport, a second form of identification, or an “enhanced” driver’s license.

  • VisasEconomic relationships, not terrorism fears, drive visa decisions: study

    Despite heightened focus on preventing global terrorism since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, researchers have found that the economic relationship between two countries is the most significant factor in determining the acceptance or rejection rate of visas. “Surprisingly what I find is the global reputation a state garners as a prominent origin of terrorism has a very minute impact when you take into account trade interdependence,” the study’s author says.

  • ImmigrationDHS wants changes in Calif.’s ID for undocumented immigrants

    California is preparing to issue drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants who have been permitted to stay in the United States, but DHS has rejected the state’s design for the license card. DHS wants the cards to be unique enough to distinguish them from regular drivers’ licenses, but immigrant rights activists do not want the design to be so different that license holders would suffer from discrimination.

  • Fake passportsThe global passport security loophole: how serious is it?

    By David Beirman

    More than one billion people are estimated to have travelled internationally in 2013, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body that regulates air transport worldwide, reported that around 3.1 billion people travelled by airplane in 2013. The numbers are immense. As a result, so too are the security challenges for airlines, immigration, and airport security agencies. The ICAO expects all of its 192 member countries to introduce machine-readable passports by 2015, but there is still no international deadline for the introduction of biometric passports. This means some people could be using old-fashioned passports until 2025. Even then, there is no absolute guarantee biometric passports are any more tamper-proof than a host of other computer-based security measures which apply to credit cards and customer databases.

  • Border securityPassports of millions of travelers to U.K. not thoroughly checked

    The use of false passports by two passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared a couple of days ago have highlighted the fact that in the United Kingdom, the passport details of more than twenty million people entering and leaving the United Kingdom every year are not being properly checked. The Home Office’s most recent figures show that data is still not being collected and examined for about 10 percent of the 200 million people flying in and out of the United Kingdom every year.

  • REAL IDMississippi to comply with REAL ID

    Last Friday, Mississippi joined forty other states and announced it would comply with the REAL ID Act. Forty-one states and territories are fully or partially compliant with REAL ID – of which twenty states are fully compliant.

  • Book reviewCorrupt practices: U.S. visa-granting easily compromised

    By Grant M. Lally

    While serving as a Foreign Service Officer in Guyana, Thomas Carroll sold visas to anyone who would pay, making millions of dollars in the process. Carroll’s scheme differed from the petty favors and kick-backs, which had typified FSO visa fraud in other embassies and consulates, mostly in scale. He took retail visa fraud and made it wholesale.

  • ImmigrationCalifornia granting driver's licenses to illegal aliens threatens homeland security: critics

    Last Thursday night’s approval of AB 60 by both houses of the California Legislature, granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, poses a serious threat to the security of all Americans, critics charge. The critics say that in 2005, in response to recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, Congress enacted the REAL ID Act in order to discourage state governments from issuing driver’s licenses and other identity documents to illegal aliens – and that California’s AB 60 is designed to circumvent requirements of REAL ID Act.

  • AviationTSA to promote PreCheck program for travelers

    In an effort to make airport security lines shorter and move faster, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow passengers to apply for expedited airport screenings. TSA says the plan is for 25 percent of U.S. travelers to be eligible for the system by the end of this year, and 50 percent by 2014.