The REAL ID Act Ten Years Later

Broken Promises and Little Progress to Secure Driver's Licenses, Charges FAIR

May 11, 2015, 11:58 ET from FAIR

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  May 11, 2015 marks 10 years since President George W. Bush signed the REAL ID Act into law. 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.

"Today, 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 recommendations," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "From a national security standpoint, it is fair to say we are regressing, not progressing even as terrorist threats mount."

The original date for implementation of the law was supposed to have been May 11, 2008.

Yet, 10 years later, REAL ID has still not been fully implemented, as numerous postponements and waivers have kept key provisions from taking effect. Among those are provisions 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 U.S., Social Security number and the address of their principal residence.

"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," charged Stein.

Today, only 23 of the 56 jurisdictions that issue licenses are REAL ID compliant. Twenty-seven states or U.S. territories are noncompliant; however, they are committed to becoming REAL ID compliant before the end of the year.

Worse yet, 10 states plus the District of Columbia now issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens while a growing number of local governments are issuing municipal IDs to illegal aliens. These state and local documents are being granted based on an assortment of unverifiable and easily counterfeited documents presented by illegal aliens.

Marking this 10th anniversary of enactment of REAL ID, FAIR calls for:

  • No further delays or postponements in implementation of all provisions of REAL ID.
  • No further waivers allowing holders of noncompliant state IDs to use those documents for federal identification purposes.
  • All licenses issued to temporary visa holders to expire concurrently with expiration of the visa.
  • States issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens need to be held accountable.
  • Full implementation of the biometric entry/exit tracking system of foreign visitors as mandated on eight separate occasions beginning in 1996.)

"It is long past time for America to adapt 21st century technology to our vital identity documents. A decade after enactment of REAL ID, the American people are still waiting for their government to fulfill its promise to protect their security and their identities," Stein concluded.


Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group.  With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests.  FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.


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