By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security
Department of Defense installations across the U.S. will no longer accept driver’s licenses from five states deemed non-compliant with the REAL ID Act. Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington residents must now show an alternate document such as a passport to gain access to a DoD facility.
Twenty-three states are currently not fully compliant with the REAL ID Act but were granted exemptions by the federal government. However, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington were all recently denied any further extensions, making them officially non-compliant with the REAL ID Act. Minnesota’s exemption expired in 2015.
Current driver’s licenses are required to show a person’s name, gender, date of birth, a photo, permanent address, signature, the driver’s weight, height, eye and hair color. However, the REAL ID Act requires that driver’s licenses must also include the holder’s citizenship and Social Security number. Additionally, compliant licenses must contain technology that makes them machine-readable.
“All federal agencies including DoD must comply with the law regarding the use of REAL IDs for official purposes,” a DoD official said. “For most DoD installations, an identification card or an installation pass is required to facilitate access. Hence, where an ID or an installation pass is used for physical access, DoD installations are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses or state identification cards from states deemed non-REAL ID compliant.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently limiting enforcement of the REAL ID Act to military bases, most federal facilities and nuclear power plants – but there are plans to extend the act’s enforcement to domestic air travel. In fact, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently announced that all domestic airline passengers will be required to show a compliant ID starting Jan. 22, 2018. There is a real possibility that residents of certain states will soon be required to show a passport to clear airport security – even if traveling domestically.
The act’s enforcement is unpopular with many Democrats and Republicans alike, with politicians pointing to the enormous cost of implementation as well as fears that the United States is slowly administering a ‘National ID’ system – similar to those used in Europe.
According to a recent New York Times report, getting every state compliant with the REAL ID Act will cost around $4 billion.