MAINE, USA — Mainers and people across the country have another two years until enforcement of REAL ID requirements. This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced it's once again delaying the rollout of the law first passed in 2005.
"The delay is welcome news for Mainers who now have extra time to contemplate whether the REAL ID is right for them," Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in an interview Wednesday.
REAL ID enforcement was set to begin in May 2023 before the delay. It is now delayed until May 7, 2025.
"This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card," Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas wrote earlier this week when the delay was announced. "DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely."
When the REAL ID requirements do go into effect, they will be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes, such as entrance to federal buildings and boarding commercial airplanes. A traditional driver's license or ID card would not be accepted, however, a passport would.
"We assume that some day there will be federal requirements for what's required to board a plane. And so we want Mainers to either get a passport, you can get a passport card that fits in your wallet, or, you can get a REAL ID," Bellows said.
Some in Maine however are calling for the REAL ID law, first passed in 2005, to be repealed altogether.
"We're now in the second decade of the government kicking can down the road with REAL ID. It's time to just end this. Go back to the drawing board, come up with something that's actually workable, and that will provide appropriate protections to people's privacy," Zach Heiden, chief counsel with the ACLU of Maine, said.
Heiden said a major privacy concern with REAL ID, is the documents required for obtaining one, would be scanned, and stored in a Bureau of Motor Vehicles database.
"There has been a real reluctance for people to implement it, and we think it's real time for the government to get serious and repeal it," Heiden said.
Bellows said the Maine Secretary of State's Office will continue to reach out to the public to ensure they're not caught off guard when the policy goes into effect in 2025.
"We recognize that we don't have control over the TSA requirements, we have to follow the law. And so we just hope Mainers will think through what their options are, and make the best decisions for themselves and their families," Bellows said.