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Real IDs, explained (VOX)

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Real IDs, explained – By Terry Nguyen (VOX) / March 24 2020

Millions of Americans who have driver’s licenses still haven’t upgraded to a Real ID.

On March 22, President Donald Trump said he will extend the deadline for Americans to obtain a Real ID, a new type of identification card required to fly domestically. Trump did not provide a new deadline, but said that he will announce the date “very soon.” The original deadline was October 1.

When the new deadline arrives, most current driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration, which means travelers will need to show another form of federally accepted ID, like a US passport or permanent resident card, to make it past security and onto their flight. The rule also affects people looking to access federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

The result of this impending change? Overcrowded DMVs, long lines and waits, and mass confusion. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, stories of bureaucratic chaos at local DMVs had emerged, and airports were bracing for October 1. Headlines like “Get in line now. California’s DMV is really, really behind in issuing Real IDs” and “Need a new driver’s license to fly? Prepare for a real wait” sent people scrambling to schedule appointments to secure a new ID. As of January 2020, DHS reported that 95 million driver’s license holders have been issued Real IDs. That means there are still 181 million people who need to upgrade their licenses, and as the pandemic spreads across the country, obtaining one will likely be a distant priority for most people.

The Department of Homeland Security has spent years trying to implement federally standardized identification at the state level. As of 2016, 32 states were still not compliant with Real ID requirements, which led DHS to extend the time frame for the program. If you choose to not get a Real ID this year, your driver’s license is still valid for other things besides plane travel, like driving, age verification, or voter registration.

According to a survey by the US Travel Association in September, most Americans are confused about the Real ID requirements. More than half said they didn’t know about the previous October 1 deadline, and 39 percent said they didn’t have an alternative like a passport. Still, despite Americans’ uncertainty surrounding these new ID requirements, the law is on track to be implemented in about eight months — nearly 15 years after the original legislation was approved in Congress. Here are some answers to the questions you might have about the Real ID.

What’s the purpose of a Real ID?

In response to the 9/11 terror attacks, the House of Representatives passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to establish a federal standard for driver’s licenses and identification cards. The legislation aimed to effectively change how these documents are issued and produced to reduce the possibility of forgery and fraud. (Some of the 9/11 terrorists obtained state licenses through fraudulent documents by taking advantage of certain loopholes to prove their identity and residency.) As DHS writes on its website, “The purpose of Real ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure.”

Continue to article: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/2/25/21147550/real-id-explained

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