While 10 states and the District of Columbia have been issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens as of the summer of 2015, according to a report by Pew Charitable Trusts, and advocates for illegals continue to protest voter ID laws and mandatory use of E-Verify by businesses, beginning October 10, security screeners at nearly 200,000 federal buildings may deny access to visitors who present a driver’s license or identification card from a state non-compliant with REAL ID rules.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just released its guidance for federal agencies for this phase of REAL ID enforcement. The guidance, REAL ID Act of 2005 Implementation: An Interagency Security Committee Guide, contains a list of approved federal and state issued IDs.
According to DHS, a passport or ID specially approved by the federal government can be used as proof of identity.
The 2005 REAL ID Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and IDs that do not meet standards set by DHS.One purpose of the REAL ID Act was to strengthen the security of federal facilities from terrorist attacks.
The act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the act are: accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
“One of the Department of Homeland Security’s priorities is the protection of federal employees and private citizens who work within and visit US government-owned or leased facilities,” the guidelines state. “The Interagency Security Committee (ISC), chaired by DHS, consists of 54 federal departments and agencies, and has as its mission the development of security standards and best practices for nonmilitary federal facilities in the United States.”
The new DHS guideline clarifies how identity card clearances are to be uniformly applied to protect federal employees and private citizens who work within and visit these buildings.
According the Government Services Administration, there are 275,195 buildings that are owned and leased by the federal government as of 2014. But there’s only been REAL ID enforcement at 217 of these buildings. This next phase of enforcement will include "semi-restricted" federal facilities with Federal Security Levels 3, 4 or 5. Federal buildings where no ID checks currently occur — like museums, benefits offices and government hospitals — will not be among those covered by the increased enforcement, according to DHS.
"States or territories that are not REAL ID compliant or have not received an extension by DHS to comply will be most impacted,” reacted Keeping IDentities Safe President Brian Zimmer. “Residents of New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana and New York are already being denied access to a few hundred federal facilities. Of these, only in New York does the governor have the authority to direct the state Department of Motor Vehicles to comply. The other three states require legislative action to remove anti-REAL ID barriers.”
Zimmer said that, “Adding as many 200,000 federal and military buildings with access restrictions will increase incentives for states to comply with REAL ID requirements. This REAL ID enforcement guide demonstrates that positive measures are being taken to protect federal employees and our soldiers on military bases from suicidal shooters and terrorists."
Keeping IDentities Safe is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, not for profit crime prevention education public charity, supported by donor contributions from across the United States. Keeping IDentities Safe is a member of the Document Security Alliance and the American National Standards Institute.
Homeland Security Today reported in its May report, REAL ID: Broken Promises, Little Progress to Secure Driver’s Licenses, Group Says, that May 11 marked 10 years since President George W. Bush signed the REAL ID Act into law, and yet it still hasn’t been fully implemented because numerous postponements and waivers have kept key provisions from taking effect."
“Not only are less than half of states compliant, but a growing number of them have enacted legislation to put licenses in the hands of illegal aliens, a practice that is thoroughly antithetical to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations," said Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) President Dan Stein in a statement at the time. "From a national security standpoint, it is fair to say we are regressing, not progressing even as terrorist threats mount."
“REAL ID was intended to carry out key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which revealed that our nation’s permissive system of issuing driver’s licenses was a glaring vulnerability that was exploited by the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,” a FAIR statement said.
Among the legislation’s provisions are measures that were designed to prevent illegal aliens from obtaining state-issued driver’s licenses and safeguards requiring that applicants for licenses and other documents prove their identity, birth date, legal status in the US, Social Security number and the address of their principal residence.
Stein said, "REAL ID is a textbook example of what happens when the vital interests of the American people run up against the interests of powerful business interests, the illegal alien lobby and bureaucratic foot-dragging. The interests of the American people – even the security of our nation – get sacrificed.”
There’s little doubt that privacy rights advocates see a Big Brother like “national database,” while states see the REAL ID Act as an unfunded mandate, since the cost of recreating and re-issuing millions of licenses and ID cards falls on the states.
DHS’s new "ISC guide details the purpose and background of the REAL ID Act of 2005, and outlines the phased implementation schedule for enforcement,” the DHS guide said. “The guide also contains options in accordance with the act for creating access control procedures, communicating those procedures and establishing alternate access control procedures if necessary. Lastly, the guide contains appendices which reference information on the act, a list of acceptable forms of identification, visual references for acceptable forms of identification and a flow chart aid for developing access control decisions.”
“Consistent with Executive Order 12977 (October 19, 1995), [the] REAL ID Act of 2005 Implementation: An Interagency Security Committee Guide is intended to be applied to all buildings and facilities in the United States occupied by federal employees for nonmilitary activities,” the guide says, noting that, “These include existing owned, to be purchased, or leased facilities; stand-alone facilities; federal campuses; individual facilities on federal campuses; and special-use facilities.”
Continuing, the guide stated, “Implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 creates an opportunity to develop and promote a common set of access control procedures for federal facilities. This document outlines guidance for federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense and Facility Security Committees (FSC), specifically with regards to alternate access control options for individuals who are unable to present a driver’s license or identification card issued by a REAL ID compliant state.”
The act was enacted to implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance…of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
It also “established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and assigned responsibility for determining whether a state is meeting these standards to the Department of Homeland Security,” the guide continued. “DHS issued the REAL ID regulation on January 29, 2008, and began issuing compliance determinations on December 20, 2012. The act prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the act’s minimum standards. Official purposes defined in the act and regulations include: accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. In early 2013, the National Security Council Staff convened an Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) to develop a plan to ensure that enforcement of the act’s prohibitions is done fairly and responsibly. This plan, announced by DHS on December 20, 2013, defined the initial enforcement phases and established a schedule for their implementation …”
For more on the different phases of REAL ID enforcement, see DHS’s REAL ID F&Q.