- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2020

Americans will have an extra year to update their state-issued driver’s licenses and other official identification used to board a commercial airplane under the Real ID Act, Homeland Security announced Thursday.

President Trump had teased the decision earlier this week, saying coronavirus made the deadline untenable, but didn’t announced the length of the extension.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Thursday the new deadline is Oct. 1, 2021 — a year later than the old deadline.

States across the country have shuttered motor vehicle offices and some have issued remain-at-home orders, making it impossible for residents whose IDs are not in compliance with Real ID to update them.

Compliant IDs have a star on them. Only about a third of state-issued licenses or identification cards are considered compliant, and authorities were expecting a surge of people over the next six months seeking to update their IDs.



Once the deadline kicks in, compliant IDs will be required in order to board a commercial flight or to enter a federal government building.

The emergency recovery bill that cleared the Senate this week and awaits a final House vote includes language putting off the Real ID deadline until Sept. 30, 2021.

Real ID grew out of one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that studied the way the hijackers committed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The commission said some of the hijackers were in the country illegally, yet were able to obtain valid driver’s licenses that they used to board the airplanes.

The law containing Real ID was passed in 2005 and there was a May 11, 2011, deadline for states to comply. The Obama administration initiated several delays, finally setting the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.

Even with the extra years, a number of states had been begging for another delay, with members of Congress from those states heaping pressure on Homeland Security.

Mr. Wolf had been coy about whether another one would be granted in the weeks before COVID-19, but said Thursday the delay creates space to work out final kinks for states that have struggled to issue Real ID identification.

“Extending the deadline will also allow the department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of Real IDs once the current health crisis concludes,” he said.

Mr. Wolf’s move drew praise from some quarters of Capitol Hill.

“This is the right move not only given the unprecedented times our nation faces, but because states need sensible relief in Real ID implementation,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican. “This decision makes sense now more than ever.”

The Real ID provisions in the coronavirus rescue bill were accompanied by other language on sanctuary cities. Under the bill, the administration could not withhold coronavirus assistance money from sanctuary jurisdictions.

Homeland Security and the Justice Department are battling sanctuary jurisdictions across the country, and have recently been given permission by one appeals court to withhold certain Justice Department grants from states, cities or counties that refuse to cooperate with immigration agents.

Cases are currently pending in California, New Jersey, Washington and New York.

In that latter case it’s state officials who have sued the Trump administration, after Mr. Wolf said New Yorkers could no longer sign up for some trusted traveler programs because the state denies certain Homeland Security agencies access to its motor vehicle records.

The judge held a scheduling hearing in the case on Thursday and indicated he would be willing to consider approving a class action status for all New Yorkers who are unable to sign up.

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