REAL ID: Fear, Federalism, and the U.S. National ID Program

December 11, 2015

The REAL ID Act is a law that Congress passed without hearings in 2005, which sought to make state driver licensing into a national ID system. The law tries to coerce state compliance with federal identification standards by threatening that the Transportation Security Administration will refuse driver’s licenses and IDs from noncompliant states when Americans go to travel. This fall, a Department of Homeland Security campaign to stir up fears that the TSA will refuse drivers licenses at airports across America was so successful that passport offices in New Mexico were swamped, and a DHS official recently published a piece in the Albuquerque Journal backtracking on a widely reported January 2016 deadline for state compliance.

DHS claims that all but a few holdout states stand in the way of having a national ID. But no state is in compliance today, and no state will be for the foreseeable future. Congress continues to fund this intrusive federal power grab, even as recent experience shows that national identification requirements are ineffective in enhancing security. Join us for a discussion of the national ID law, the ongoing implementation issues, and the reasons to abandon the policy of having a U.S. national ID.

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