The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a final rule setting uniform standards for driver's licenses and ID cards, in an attempt to strengthen safety and security procedures and protect against terrorism.
Compliance for the REAL ID program is set to begin on Dec. 31, 2009. All individuals under the age of 50 will be required to complete enrollment by Dec. 1, 2014, and all individuals over the age of 50 will be required to enroll by Dec. 1, 2017.
“The 9/11 hijackers obtained 30 driver's licenses and IDs and used 364 aliases. For an extra $8 per license, REAL ID will give law enforcement and security officials a powerful advantage against falsified documents,” said Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff.
REAL ID sets requirements that states must adopt, including information and security features incorporated into each card, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status, verification of the source documents and increased security standards for offices that issue licenses and ID cards.
However, many groups deem the program ineffective and costly, and fervently oppose the plan. Barry Steinhardt and Tim Sparapani of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement: “REAL ID needs to be repealed. It is not only a threat to Americans' privacy but it is utterly unworkable. After three and a half years of efforts to implement this law, the tortured remains of the statute that appear to survive in these regulations stand as stark evidence of that fact.”
Numerous state governments have challenged the idea of a national ID card, with some attempting to block the legislation.
“Rather than improved security, this course will result in resentment, litigation and enormous costs that states will be forced to absorb,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “That is why legislative bodies in 21 states have passed legislation in opposition to REAL ID, and six states expressly prohibit compliance with REAL ID by statute — Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington.”
“I have joined Senators [Daniel} Akaka, [John] Sununu, [Jon] Tester, [Max] Baucus and [Lamar] Alexander in introducing legislation to repeal the driver's license provisions of the law, and to replace them with the negotiated rulemaking process originally enacted in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act,” Leahy added.