REAL ID, Real Problem

The REAL ID Act, signed into law in 2005 by George W. Bush, has had its implementation delayed yet again. The DHS was poised to ban citizens from five States (Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington state) for not being in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. This would have prohibited citizens from these five States from air travel, and entering military bases and federal buildings. 

What was the law for? 

The law was part of a recommendation coming out of the 9/11 investigation. This was to make domestic air travel safer for all. It was signed into law by George Bush, and a Republican congress pushed it through. The law was to set a national standard for drivers’ licenses as well as I.D. cards. This was to include what documents you had to have as well as what information the State had to have on the card itself. It would have linked all the State databases with the information of all drivers as well as those with simple I.D. cards, including drivers’ histories as well. A more controversial aspect is that it would have shared this information with not only every State, but Canada and Mexico as well since all three are part of the North American Driver License Agreement (NADLA). There are other aspects of the law relating to immigration and terrorist activities, though they are not part of this current spat between the States and the Federal Government.

Has it worked?

Once the law was passed, 28 states refused to go along with it. Many States simply decided to ignore it and not comply, while others passed legislation in their states banning implementation of the law itself. Those that chose this method were Oklahoma, Missouri, and Maine. The cost was another reason, with the federal government putting the entire cost on the States for regulations they wanted in place. Out of the 28 that have not complied, 21 have waivers, 2 are being reviewed (New Jersey and South Carolina), and 5 are without waivers. The DHS has backed down from banning these five from being able to fly, pushing back the implementation date to January 22nd2018. Over a decade later the REAL ID Act is still being nullified by 28 States.

What now?

With the implementation pushed back yet again, the DHS has decided that it will continue to take the drivers’ licenses of the five States it decided to block until 2018. What this sets up is a clash between the States and the federal government later on down the road. This does not seem to be a Democrat nor Republican fight as this is happening in States such as California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Missouri, and others. There does not seem to be a resolution in sight for the REAL I.D. Act, however, it does show that the States are willing to push back when they are pushed too far by the federal government.

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