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.