Air travel has been changing through the years. To enforce safety and prevent terrorist attacks, new layers of federal security allow the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to conduct seen and unseen passenger screenings.
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, identification (ID) took precedence in airport security, and anti-immigration forces noticed that. The importance of ID in our society for enhanced security has been used to punish immigrants by blocking access to driver’s licenses and other forms of ID.
One of the measures to strengthen security after the terrorist attacks more than a decade ago was the introduction of a legislation called Real ID. Real ID recognized that each state in the U.S. had different standards when issuing driver’s licenses or state IDs. It seeks to homogenize the security features to prevent the fraudulent use of ID and restrict the acquisition only to persons to whom the federal government allows access.
Enacted in 2005, the Real ID Act modifies the standards for obtaining state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses and incorporates security features.
Real ID aims to be a national ID.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mandates that by October 1, 2020, all travelers will need to carry a Real ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of ID (such as a U.S. passport) for access to commercially operated domestic flights, entering federal buildings or nuclear power plants, among other activities.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has posted on airport websites and around the internet: “Beginning January 22, 2018, driver’s licenses or state IDs issued by states that are not in compliance with the REAL ID Act and have not been granted an extension by DHS may not be used to fly within the U.S.”
All airline passengers, but especially immigrants, need to be aware of each state’s implementation of the Real ID program, which so far has been uneven. Some states have been quicker to implement the measures than others.
However, travelers, do not panic. Passports (including foreign ones) may be used instead of a state-issued ID card for non-compliant states. Follow the link to see accepted forms of ID for travel (page 2).
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has stated that current Arizona driver’s licenses and state identification cards are valid for air travel until Oct. 1, 2020.
Arizona is among states that have been granted federal exemptions “allowing valid driver licenses and state IDs to be used for travel until Oct. 1, 2020… because Arizona has started offering a voluntary ID that meets REAL ID Act requirements”.
Check your state’s compliance on this map.
DACA recipients or immigrants with a valid state-issued ID should be aware of these changes.