ONE SIDE EFFECT of the COVID-19 pandemic that may actually be welcomed by many is President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to delay implementation of the REAL ID Act. The act, originally set to take effect in October, would require states to meet specific security standards for their drivers’ licenses put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Two states, Oregon and Oklahoma, still are not in compliance with the act and New Jersey’s status is under review, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Residents of non-compliant states may not be able to use their licenses as identification to board domestic flights.
“At a time when we’re asking Americans to maintain social distancing, we do [not] want to require people to go with their local DMV,” Trump said during a press conference on the COVID-19 crisis. “We will be announcing the new deadline very soon.”
The delay was endorsed by Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
“Extending the REAL ID deadline is clearly the wise course of action at this juncture,” Dow said. “We’ve asked DHS that the delay of the REAL ID enforcement deadline remain in place until the current economic environment improves and DHS can certify that access to air travel will not be negatively impacted after REAL ID enforcement begins. The already difficult task of bringing the country closer to REAL ID compliance is now clearly impossible due to the coronavirus crisis.”
Three Democratic chairmen of relevant House committees requested the delay in a letter last week to DHS, according to The Hill.
“For implementation to go smoothly, DHS would need tens of millions of Americans to get new identifications over the next several months. Creating lines at Departments of Motor Vehicles would be foolish during a pandemic,” the chairmen wrote.
USTA previously supported The Secure Traveler Act, which would expand the TSA PreCheck program that allows pre-cleared air travelers to pass through airport security more quickly.