Real ID and Federal Control: An Explainer from CCHF President Twila Brase (January 25, 2021)


DHS Extends Real ID Deadline to May 7, 2025

Real ID and Federal Control: an Explainer from CCHF President Twila Brase

*To check the current status and options in your state, go to Current Status and click on your state. 

DHS Extends Real ID Deadline to May 3, 2022

DHS Launches “Be Your REAL ID Self” campaign to try to convince Americans to get a federally-prescribed REAL ID card by the “October 1, 2021 REAL ID full enforcement deadline.” (Consider using a passport or enhanced state drivers’ license instead of a USA “Star” card)

Letter from concerned Pennsylvania Legislators to President Donald Trump

CCHF Sends Letter to Montana Governor Steve Bullock, May 5, 2017

CCHF Publishes MN REAL ID Voting Records for 2017 – SEE BELOW 

The following was published in 2017, with a few 2018 updates added:

CCHF is opposed to the federal government’s push to federalize driver’s licenses and IDs, ending state sovereignty over citizen identification, movement, and access to and purchase of goods and services. These services include, or are expected to include medical services.

If there’s a gold star on the card, it’s a REAL ID. Other symbols are also possible. If you have “for federal purposes” or “for federal identification” on your card, your state has agreed to subject you to the federal law, which also assumes authority over the “not for federal purposes” drivers’ license or ID card that does not have a gold star. BOTH types of Driver’s licenses and ID cards are under federal control. There’s no opting out of REAL ID once the state passes a law to submit to the REAL ID Act of 2005 and its regulations.

STATES’ RIGHTS: Importantly, federal control over driver’s licenses and ID cards is a violation of states’ rights and individual rights’ under the 10th Amendment. The federal government is forbidden under the U.S. Constitution from commandeering the states. 

OFFICIAL PURPOSES: The federal REAL ID Act authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally expand “official purposes” of the “for federal purposes” card. Today, it’s flying and access to federal and nuclear facilities, but it could be expanded to everything from access to medical care, to purchase of guns to registration at a hotel. 

YOU CAN STILL FLY: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledges that individuals can fly without REAL ID.  In addition, TSA has a blog post telling Americans they can fly without an ID by going through enhanced screening. A 2006 9th Court of Appeals case, Gilmore vs. Gonzales, found the same. TSA also has a list of 13 identification documents you can use (see link below).

STRONG RESISTANCE: In 2017, twelve years after REAL ID was enacted, only half of the country (25 states) had submitted to REAL ID, and some of them are not yet fully hooked up to the national database, which the GAO says won’t be fully functioning until 2023. Many states passed laws to prohibit implementation of REAL ID. U.S. Senators in Montana have a bill to repeal REAL ID. However, by 2018, after threatening Americans with not being able to fly, all states have either submitted, or are in the process of submitting to the federal government (have an extension)

TOOTHLESS THREATS: There are no penalties or enforcement procedures to secure REAL ID compliance from states. The latest “deadline” is Jan. 22, 2018, with a stated prohibition on flying in October 2020. This is at least the sixth “deadline” because, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several times, the federal government cannot force states to implement a federal program. It’s unconstitutional. It’s a violation of the 10th Amendment.

Current Status – What States have submitted; Which States have refused

NATIONAL PATIENT ID: CCHF views REAL ID as a National ID card and a back door to a National Patient ID: 

  • HIPAA – The 1996 HIPAA law mandated a Unique Patient Identifier (UPI), but Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) froze funding for its creation in 1999. If implemented, health care access could become an “official purpose” for which the “for federal purposes” REAL ID cards would be required: No card, No care.
  • ID DEMANDS – Due to the 2007 FTC “Red Flags Rule,” most clinics and hospitals require patients to show ID if they don’t pay cash ( Even though a law clarified that physicians aren’t required to ID patients, many still require it (no card, no care). 

NATIONAL IDENTITY REGISTRY: The federal law and regulations require a central data “hub” with certain identifiable information from all American cardholders (licenses and IDs) accessible to all 50 states and U.S. territories (see page 5 (44th page of AAMVA)). The hub database is “pinged” when one state searches for an individual’s data from another state. Biometrics can be recorded and linked to your ID. 

PRIVACY RISKSThe federal privacy assessment of REAL ID designates the personally-identifiable data held by the federal data verification “hub” as Sensitive Security Information (SSI) and suggests states prepare “breach notification” procedures.

KEY DOCUMENTS: CCHF has been sharing and using some of the following documents in testimony on MN REAL ID bills since January 2016:

State Compliance Map – June 2019:

State Compliance Map – January 2021:

REAL ID not require to fly:

Updated: May 2022

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