REAL ID Regulations Include Steps to Real Security, But Unnecessary Delays in Implementation

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Under the final REAL ID regulations issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), states will be required to verify Social Security numbers and immigration status before issuing driver's licenses beginning in October 2009 . Residents of states that resist compliance with REAL ID could find their driver's license rendered useless for federal identification purposes as early as May 2008 . These regulations represent an important breakthrough in the effort to enhance homeland security and the enforcement of laws against illegal immigration, says the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

After formal comments submitted by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal affiliate of FAIR, final regulations now require verification of Social Security numbers and immigration status before a license may be issued and, unlike many of the other provisions of REAL ID, will be implemented by October 2009 .

"Establishing that all people with state-issued driver's licenses or ID cards are legal residents of the United States is crucial to the effort to protect our nation's security and control mass immigration," commented Dan Stein , president of FAIR. "Preventing people who have no legal right to be in the country from obtaining these documents will make it more difficult to live and work here in violation of the law. This objective was the driving rationale behind the REAL ID Act."

FAIR also applauded DHS's clear message to states that have declared that they will not comply with the REAL ID Act. Beginning on May 11, 2008 , residents of those states will find their licenses are no longer valid ID for boarding commercial airliners, or entering federal buildings. The federal government regularly uses leverage to convince states to comply with a variety of regulations. The position adopted by DHS demonstrates that Washington is committed to implementing REAL ID.

While the new DHS regulations include many positive steps toward protecting homeland security and controlling illegal immigration, delaying implementation of REAL ID until 2011 poses unnecessary risks. "Our enemies are every bit as determined to exploit any weakness in our homeland security to attack our nation as they were when Congress set 2008 as the deadline for implementation. We urge federal and state authorities to expedite the process of securing our vital identity documents," Stein concluded.

About FAIR

Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest and oldest 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.