FAIR Alert: Congress Preparing to Gut REAL ID

Congress enacted the REAL ID Act in 2005, pursuant to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, after it was discovered that many of the September 11, 2001 hijackers had fraudulently obtained driver’s licenses and used them in planning their attacks. By establishing national standards for states to determine eligibility for driver’s licenses, the REAL ID Act makes it harder for terrorists and illegal aliens to obtain valid state driver’s licenses.

It also requires states that do issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens to mark them “not for identification purposes,” which tells police that the person presenting the card may not be who they claim to be. Employers who see cards marked in this manner recognize that such licenses are not proof of identity for purposes of employment, making it harder for illegal aliens to take jobs in the United States.

Now, some Members of Congress are preparing to gut this critical immigration enforcement program, jeopardizing national security. On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security is taking up a funding bill with an amendment by Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) that strips critical funding for implementing REAL ID. CALL your Member of Congress now and tell him/her to:

  • Fully fund REAL ID’s implementation; and
  • Oppose additional delays in REAL ID enforcement.

The REAL ID Act was designed to encourage the states to change their lax driver’s license standards. Specifically, the REAL ID Act prohibits residents from non-compliant states from using their state-issued IDs for official purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft, entering federal buildings, or accessing nuclear facilities. Clearly, this is a vital tool for immigration enforcement and national security.

Despite being law for nearly a decade, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly delayed full implementation of REAL ID. Contrary to the REAL ID Act, deferment allows Federal agencies to continue to accept non-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards for boarding commercial aircraft and other official purposes. This includes driver’s license and ID cards issued to illegal aliens. Yet, states have made significant progress enhancing their driver’s licenses and identification cards over the past years. In fact, approximately 84% of REAL ID is complete.

Now is not the time for Congress to defund or delay this necessary program to combat terrorists and illegal aliens. CALL your Member of Congress and ask them to fully support the REAL ID Act.

Also read: Pennsylvania Legislature to Consider Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Aliens

About Author


Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    Even James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the liberty-killing career politician that snuck REAL ID in via a nation defense and Tsunami relief bill now opposes excessive surveillance (now that his party is no longer in power of course). Sensenbrenner has been in office since 1979 and is the definition of a hypocrite.

    From his webpage:
    Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act
    H.R. 3361/ S. 1599
    Purpose: To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.

    This liberty-killing career politician thought it was OK to violate the Bill of Rights with his USA PATRIOT and REAL ID acts when Bush was in power, but now that Obama is in power, he is rethinking them.

    His USA PATRIOT Act created “know your customer” laws that required banks to collect data- a state-issued license or ID to open an account. Those who are Christians may realize a bank account is key to buying and selling and the significance of this law.

    His REAL ID Act requires the states that have complied to copy numerous personal papers, such as power bills and bank statements so as to re-prove an identity even though no one is saying you are not who your license says you are. This is the state ID required to open a bank account via the USA PATRIOT Act. While REAL ID does not require an RFID chip, it also does not prohibit one. New York and Washington (state) both offer “enhanced” licenses with an RFID chip.

    THINK about what our government is doing to “keep us safe” and where this is leading.

  2. avatar

    Short-attention span summary: REAL ID has been a costly and unconstitutional failure, and it should be repealed ASAP.

    As reported in the above story:
    Reported: “…many of the September 11, 2001 hijackers had fraudulently obtained driver’s licenses and used them in planning their attacks.”

    FACT: Not one of the 19 used a false name. Several used false addresses, which is still possible with REAL ID. One used a passport to get on the plane, again, still possible with REAL ID.

    Reported: “By establishing national standards for states to determine eligibility for driver’s licenses, the REAL ID Act makes it harder for terrorists and illegal aliens to obtain valid state driver’s licenses.”

    FACT: No such authority exists in the Constitution. In Article 1 Section 8, certain enumerated powers are established for Congress. STATE driver licenses cannot be construed to be one of them. State officials cannot be made to perform federal functions (Printz vs US, Supreme Court), so it is not a “general welfare” issue. It likewise is not an “Interstate commerce” issue since no money crosses state lines.

    Reported: “It also requires states that do issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens to mark them “not for identification purposes,”

    FACT: The law (Title 2, Sec. 202 (d) (11)) actually says “clearly states on its face that it may not be accepted by any Federal agency for federal identification or any other official purpose” For some reason, some people do not think a “federal identification” is a national ID card.

    Reported: “Employers who see cards marked in this manner recognize that such licenses are not proof of identity for purposes of employment,”

    FACT: Giving DC control of private employment is another wrong idea. This is what E-verify does, it allows the government to determine if you are able to work. That’s also unconstitutional.

    Reported: “Specifically, the REAL ID Act prohibits residents from non-compliant states from using their state-issued IDs for official purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft, entering federal buildings, or accessing nuclear facilities.”

    FACT: A lie by omission. There are FOUR, yes FOUR “official purposes in Sec. 201 (3). In addition to the three listed, the FOURTH one reads: “any other purposes that the Secretary shall determine”, so if you are OK with this unelected official having unlimited authority as to when a national ID card is required, then keep opposing repeal of REAL ID.

    FACT: The 1st Amendment bans Congress from passing any law that abridges our right to redress our grievances with our government. Requiring a “federal ID” to enter a federal building does so.

    Reported: “Clearly, this is a vital tool for immigration enforcement and national security.”

    FACT: REAL ID has not identified one illegal alien or prevented one terror plot. If in doubt, read the pro-REAL ID Heritage Foundation’s May 2011 report on 39 failed terror plots. You’ll see alert Americans and proper law enforcement stopped those plots, not someone having their power bill on file at the DMV as REAL ID requires.

    FACT: Here in Florida, the state spent over $10 million on REAL ID from 2008-10, and only recovered $7 million in so-called “federal” funds.

    FACT: In 2012, the Florida DMV asked for almost $800,000 to pay troopers OT due to citizen complaints about REAL ID making workers uneasy. Thankfully it was withdrawn after being exposed- by me, a retired trooper.

    FACT: REAL ID has cost citizens way more than $10 million. Married, divorced, and widowed women have found it easier to pay several hundred and legally change their name vs a costly (in time and money) multi-jurisdictional hunt for certified documents such as divorce decrees.

    FACT: Certain aliens are now using the legal name change in Texas, a state where fingerprinting is done.

    ULTIMATE FACT: The 19 MIDDLE EASTERN males that attacked us (note not one married/divorced/widowed woman was among them) were allowed into the country by inept FEDERAL consular and border security employees that failed to follow their own rules. See the 9/11 Commission report on terrorist travel, these failures are well-documented.

    Learn more about this bad law at Floridians Against REAL ID.

    • avatar
      Dave in Chicago on

      Thanks for pointing out the things wrong with the real ID act. Now that we know the problems, how do we keep terrorists and illegal aliens out of the US. During the Clinton, Bush and now the Obama administrations, people enter the US illegally and seem to disappear with no apparent punishment or repercussion.

      • avatar

        You’re welcome.

        We do so by following the existing rules & procedures (circa September 10, 2001) for border security and entry. As I noted, the 19 middle eastern males got in due to FEDERAL officials not doing their jobs- and again, this is well-documented by the same 9/11 Commission that said the central government must control state driver licenses. Now states/the people are being punished for this federal incompetence.

        It is also not always a matter of keeping people out. If you read the case studies the pro- REAL ID Heritage Foundation has prepared, you’ll note quite a few of them were citizens already here.

        Consider also a situation such as the Boston bombing. Let’s say both subjects had their bank statements, birth certificates, and power bills on file at the DMV. How would this have prevented their attack?

        The best example I can cite is the same one that the liberty-killing career politician Sensenbrenner used. In a case in Texas, a subject had ordered some chemicals to make a bomb. REAL ID would not have stopped him. An alert chemical company employee alerted police, who then had cause for an investigation. Alert citizens and lawful enforcement can do far more than scanning the papers of divorced women.

      • avatar

        Dave now in your town you will have big brother watching you on the streets…..it is official….cameras are everywhere…………….you are in the correct blog…….everybody here wants a REAL ID, E-Verify……etc etc

  3. avatar

    I live in South Bend, Indiana.

    I believe Indiana has REAL ID, yet it doesn’t stop illegals and those here legally but not citizens from getting a drivers license. For instance. it was discovered two non-US citizens had not only registered to vote, but had voted. The only reason this was discovered was they were going through the naturalization process and evidently they needed to go to Voters Registration and get something saying they had not registered and had not voted. Lo and behold they had not only registered but had voted. The Election Board turned the names over to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Dvorak, a Democrat, and, although voter fraud is a felony, he declined to prosecute. The Voter Registration office allowed them to withdraw their registration so, without any prosecution and now a clear Voter Registration record, they have a clear path to citizenship. I would think they had to have drivers license and/or a Social Security card to register in the first place.

    Another example is an illegal who crossed illegally as a nine-year old with his mother. He just graduated from college and the South Bend Tribune praised him to the high heavens (see article below). His “legal” status is Obama’s made up “deferred action.” He has a drivers license and a Social Security card. The article doesn’t state it, but his LinkedIn page says he has one of those jobs no American would do – he works in the Accounting/Billing Department for Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

    Nearby, Teresa Reyes beamed at her son, Eduardo, who was the first in their family to graduate from
    Mother’s Day
    Eduardo Reyes hugs his mother Teresa
    Reyes after the Holy Cross College
    Commencement ceremony on Saturday in
    South Bend. (SBT Photo/ROBERT
    FRANKLIN)6/20/2014 Graduates andmoms celebrate at HolyCross – South BendTribune: Education
    http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/education/graduates-and-moms-celebrate-at-holy-cross/article_aeea1522-d8f8-11e3-adef-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=print 2/2
    Eduardo Reyes was born in Mexico. He and his family illegally crossed the border into the United
    States when he was 9 years old.
    He grew up in South Bend and attended school, but he lacked the resources other kids had, like
    documents to get a driver’s license, a job or financial aid to college.
    But he said he doggedly pursued education until Holy Cross College offered him a scholarship.
    His mother cares for children to earn money, and she emphasized education, Eduardo Reyes said.
    The scholarship Holy Cross offered was crucial for Eduardo to be able to attend Holy Cross, he said.
    Now, he has deferred action status, meaning the government will not pursue him for living and
    working in the United States.
    It’s an action that allows Reyes to use his degree to find a job and enjoy regular privileges, such as
    getting a driver’s license.
    “I am so proud,” Teresa Reyes said as her son posed in his cap and gown.

  4. avatar

    Did the recommendations by the 9/11 Commission for securing this Country mean nothing? And, now Senator Tester wants to strip the funding for implementing REAL ID? REAL ID and required fingerprints should be required!. Driver’s licenses for illegal aliens should be stopped. Illegal Aliens should not be entitled to anything. Reason….their illegal! Are 9/11’s and the devastations that come with it, just the cost of doing business in the U.S?

    • avatar

      Which recommendations? Did you mean the ones where they documented FEDERAL employee after FEDERAL employee not following their own rules & procedures?

      The other recommendations for the central government to mandate how states issue their own licenses violates the 10th Amendment. The way the REAL ID Act is written, it also violates the 1st and 4th Amendments.

      Read about it in their report linked below, it’s in Chapter 5. Here’s a summary
      Chapter 5, “Planning and Executing Entry for the 9/11 Plot,” discusses visa issuance and admission into the United States as it specifically applied to the hijackers. …Similarly, we review aspects of the admission of the hijackers in detail, noting the immigration violations they committed.

      Here’s more:
      But the secondary inspectors for the first three men failed to ask the kinds of questions that might have elicited information that the hijackers could not substantiate. For example, Atta’s secondary inspector misjudged him as a tourist, even though Atta presented him with a student/school form as a basis for entry. Rather than admit him as a tourist, which he did, this inspector could have given Atta a deferred inspection to gather his school papers and return to an INS district office in 30 days to verify his status. Atta would have been unable to do so, since he had received his pilot’s license a month earlier. The inspector also violated length of stay requirements by giving Atta an eight-month stay without a supervisor’s approval.


  5. avatar

    Just more “stealth amnesty” by this Administration and its lackeys.

    Unbelievable when you think about the Obama administration and its selective enforcement of our nation’s laws, choosing only to enforce those they like!

    If this guy doesn’t deserve to be impeached, then i can’t imagine what else he would have to do to qualify.

  6. avatar
    AmericanPatriot on

    It has been my understanding since before enaction that this is the foot in the door to have a National ID system which just makes it easier for the Feds to keep us under their thumb. The liberals and statists called it a means for corralling illegals so it’d look palatable to freedom loving Americans instead of what it really is. RIIIGHT! It’s all about CONTROL!. I’ve got some beach front property in Colorado I’d like to sell you with great ocean views and it’s really cheap too.

  7. avatar

    picture/paper id is insecure and easily forged and illegally obtained valid id under assumed stolen and fake names. many thieves obtain several id’s, one for each entitlement scam. they are scamming welfare and disability under several different names living it up on us taxpayers. the only real solution is fingerprint id, our fingerprints are not private and are already on everything we touch. fill out you taxes and write them a check, they now have you prints. so why be afraid? fingerprint id can still be state issued and still contain only the same information that is already available on our current id’s. no more fraud for entitlements, voting, banking/credit cards, citizenship/illegals, criminals hiding from justice, etc,…

  8. avatar

    Once again there is more ******** from the democrats. Now they want to strip funding for the Real ID Act. Yet they want to keep funding and stop any investigation into their political action group like the IRS. You could also add the EPA, the labor board, ATF, FBI, DOJ and NSA, as democratic political action groups. Obama and dirty Harry are doing everything they can to destroy this country and turn it into a socialist state like Russia or China.

    • avatar

      what a country? One thing about it, with the way that “our” people in DC are stripping away the rights of the real citizens of the country, it won’t be long before those illegals now storming across the border will quit coming and probably will be returning home as the USA will not be very attractive any longer. Can’t really think of this as “the bright side” though…….

    • avatar

      It Can Happen

      If you and your open border buddies defended America’s immigration laws, instead of becoming a Benedict Arnold against rule of law in this country. But becoming a law abiding American citizen isn’t on your agenda, is it John?

      • avatar

        SWE you are Romney material….a lazy green card holder/ H1B visa?……..I don’t know nor care…………
        even Arnold had more patriotism than you will ever had for sure………………….before he changed positions….he actually achieved quite a bit he was not recognized before he switched sides…..something you will never have…..guts and love for this land…….

  9. avatar
    so you can push your on

    So you want me to continue to allow people not entitled to vote, to vote? Don’t think so. VOTER ID required!!!

  10. avatar

    I am in Indiana and everyone I know is against it. I too will not vote for anyone that votes for this. This will def be the downfall for Americans.

  11. avatar
    Shirley Stroh on

    This is needed!! We have to stop the infiltration of any illegals, we actually should deport immediately ANY illegals here! Our for Fathers did, they up held the laws on the books. No one seems to do that an more!!

  12. avatar

    Nine years since this became law, but some want to weaken it. But we can believe all those promises of “strict enforcement” if we have an amnesty? The saying is fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. But apparently some are willing to be fooled a hundred times.

    • avatar

      do not worry Leland soon even in the bathroom you will be watch by big brother……

    • avatar

      SWE be smarter in case you lose your job…………………….create a company, re-invent yourself……be an American……..before the Indian engineers take your job…for a fraction of what you make.