Starting in 2018, many of us will become painfully aware of the term REAL ID.
The Federal government REAL ID Act of 2005 requires state issued driver's licenses and identification cards to comply with federal guidelines. The enhanced driver's licenses as they are called would have to be designed to comply with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that "will signal a secure system to pull up your biographic and biometric data for CBP (Customs) officer as you approach the border inspection booth, and a Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) or barcode that the CBP officer can read electronically if RFID isn't available" (quote from DHS website).
Per the Act and the Department of Homeland Security the enhanced driver's license is designed to provide proof of identity and U. S. citizenship.
So far only 24 of 50 states are compliant. Four states have indicated that they will not comply at all (Montana, Minnesota, Missouri and Maine). The other 22 states have extensions.
Many states have deadlines for entering federal buildings well before January 2018. For instance, to enter a federal facility in 2017, the following dates are important (not all inclusive):
� Texas � October 10, 2017
� California � October 10, 2017
� Pennsylvania � June 6, 2017
� Oklahoma � June 6, 2017
� Oregon � June 6, 2017
� Washington � June 6, 2017
� South Carolina � June 6, 2017
� Virginia � June 6, 2017
Another important deadline is January 22, 2018 in which you will not be allowed to board and airplane (to include domestic interstate flights) without alternative identification.
The following are allowed substitutes to a PA driver's license:
� U.S. passport
� U.S. passport card
� DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST
� U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
� Permanent resident card
� Border crossing card
� DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
� Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
� Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
� HSPD-12 PIV card
� Foreign government-issued passport
� Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
� Transportation worker identification credential
� U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
� U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
To be clear, the REAL ID only "improves" security on U. S. Citizens. It will not improve domestic anti-terrorism efforts. The cost of the program is enormous with little to no benefit. A dear friend of mine called REAL ID, "security theater, an inconvenience for the lawful but not an obstacle to the terrorists".
An example of the impact of the REAL ID is with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The PA Department of Transportation expects that complying with the cost of REAL ID may be as much as $100 Million which will be recouped from those seeking new licenses.
Note as well that REAL ID compliance will still require you to provide your birth certificate, home mortgage papers, electric bill or the like to prove your citizenship. It is not simply a renewing of your driver's license. Children under 18 will not need compliant identification if flying with an adult who has compliant documents.
As a result of the inconvenience for some of our citizens who are scrambling to get passports, the PA Senate and House have passed bills to offer Pennsylvanians an option to acquire a compliant driver's license (at your expense) or to keep your current driver's license. The measure is a commonsense approach to resolve the inconvenience but at the same time represents another unnecessary intrusion into our lives with literally no benefit.
Many states are considering the same type of hybrid system as well in order to reduce the travel problems which are coming up quickly for all citizens.
I would also encourage you to write your Congressman and Senator and ask them to repeal the REAL ID Act of 2005. To secure us against terrorism, let us instead enact meaningful immigration laws rather than enact laws which punish our community and our citizens.
It is mindboggling that Congress is so complacent about illegal immigration but more than heavy handed on law abiding citizens. When the 17th amendment of the U. S. Constitution became law, the nation lost a powerful leg in the stool of stability for our Republic. States were stripped of their sovereignty and our Republic was made weaker.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 is merely a consequence of a poorly thought out amendment to a Constitution which has stood the test of time. As a state legislator, it is imperative that we push back against federal government overreach, particularly with the REAL ID Act of 2005 as a start.
Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives. He is a retired Marine Reserve Colonel and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan and specializes in corporate restructuring. He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at FRYAN1951@aol.com.