REAL ID: Fear, Federalism, and the U.S. National ID Program (Jim Harper)


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.

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