Tell 2020 Dems: End REAL ID on day one
In less than a year, the federal government will have a new and dangerous tool at its disposal to visibly mark and punish undocumented people.
On Oct. 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security will require everyone who lives in the United States to use a REAL ID driver's license to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings.1 Immigrants and other people who do not have paperwork proving citizenship cannot get a REAL ID. They will have limited mobility and an alternative ID signaling that they could be undocumented.
The REAL ID requirement is not about safety or uniformity. It is about requiring states to flag undocumented people so that law enforcement can easily identify them. But the next president can overturn this rule. Now, more than ever, we must make sure that Democratic 2020 candidates are working to fix our broken systems instead of finding new ways for more people to be targeted by the government.
Tell 2020 Democratic candidates: End REAL ID.
The REAL ID Act was signed in 2005 without meaningful debate. As with so many other post-9/11 policies, it was fueled by Islamophobia and xenophobia. Since 2005, opposition to REAL ID has grown. A number of states, concerned about privacy and the construction of a DHS national database of drivers, refused to comply, which pushed the deadline back years. Now states are now being forced to comply.
The pushback may have died down, but the stakes are still high. Driver's licenses are essential to our communities. They allow people to legally drive, insure their vehicles, fly, and obtain services and housing, and REAL ID is a green light for discrimination.2
REAL ID is extremely dangerous because of this:
- Unequal access.
- Two-tiered system.
- Supercharged surveillance.
Right now, DACA recipients can only obtain temporary REAL IDs. Undocumented immigrants cannot receive a REAL ID at all. And people who don't have their birth certificate or social security card or whose name is different than what is on their documentation will have a hard, if not impossible, time getting a REAL ID.
If REAL ID replaces standard licenses, we will create a clear class of second-class Americans whose lack of a REAL ID marks them, limits their mobility and makes them suspect. Simply living in the United States will become even harder for those who can't access the REAL ID.
With REAL ID, ICE, Border Patrol and local police would have the ability to pull from DMV databases to create their own records of who doesn't have a REAL ID. That data could be used by employers, landlords and banks to deny people work, housing, bank accounts and other financial services.
We have than a year from the REAL ID deadline, abd 99 million people still don't have one.3 There is a significant chance that millions who are eligible will still be without REAL ID past the October 2020 deadline, which gives us leverage to stop the requirement. We need the 2020 Democratic candidates to pledge to end REAL ID now.
- Katia Hetter, "Is your ID good enough to travel? It may not be next year," CNN, Oct. 2, 2019.
- Alex Davies, "The Real ID Is Nearly Here, and You Can’t Fly Home Without It," Wired, Nov. 18, 2019.
- National Conference on State Legislature, "State Legislative Activity in Opposition to the Real ID," January 2014.