This past week, the
state of Maine agreed to comply with Real ID regulations. Maine was the
last state to agree to comply with Real ID, making this a remarkable
cornerstone for the program. All 56 U.S. jurisdictions and states have
either complied with the law to implement Real ID security standards by
May 11, 2008, or have applied for an extension of the deadline for
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
should be applauded for its efforts to implement Real ID with the
states' approval, having negotiated the terms of the security
requirements respectfully and in good faith. Now it is up to Congress
to hold up its end of the bargain and fully fund the program.
Real ID's Turbulent Past
ID originally stemmed from the core recommendations by the 9/11
Commission Report to secure driver's licenses. Congress agreed with the
commission and passed the Real ID Act of 2005, which established
voluntary national minimum standards for state-issued identification
Real ID quickly fell under attack. Accusations that Real
ID was a national ID card and infringed civil liberties ran rampant.
States characterized the program as another unfunded mandate from
Washington. Some states were so opposed to the program that they passed
legislation against Real ID.
Some of the criticisms were without
merit; however, concerns regarding the costs of implementation were
valid for many states. Recognizing this, the DHS proposed a plan
earlier this year to reduce the costs of the program by 73 percent,
provide further aid to states, and provide extensions for those states
that could not meet the 2008 deadline.
all jurisdictions have agreed to enhance their state driver's license
security features consistent with Real ID. Once the issue of cost was
resolved, the states were able to recognize Real ID for what it truly
is: a program that makes their state driver's license's less vulnerable
and thereby makes their citizens more secure. Lately, the country does
not seem to have agreed on much, but everybody can agree that Real ID
is necessary. Congress should make certain that the DHS receives the
money for Real ID so that states are able to fully implement the
program. All governments—state, county, or federal—are obligated to
protect their citizens. Implementing Real ID is therefore the correct
and responsible thing to do. By complying, states will greatly enhance
the security of their citizens, facilitate easier travel and commerce,
and help to protect Americans from identity theft.