DHS Announces 19-Month Extension for Deadline to Obtain REAL ID

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week that it was once again extending the deadline to obtain the REAL ID. The deadline to acquire this personal identification was originally set for October 1, 2021. However, the 19-month extension will now put the deadline at May 3, 2023.

Reason for Extension

DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorka released a statement last Tuesday regarding the extension. The DHS said the reason for the extension was “circumstances related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” According to Mayorka, extending the deadline will give states more time to reopen their driver’s license locations. Many of these processing centers have been closed as a result of the pandemic.

Why the REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 by Congress in an attempt to prevent terrorist attacks. The goal of the more stringent identification is to lower the number of licenses provided to unlawful immigrants.

The legislation was passed after a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission to set federal standards relating to personal identification, including driver’s licenses. Because some of the 9/11 hijackers were able to easily obtain fake identification, the Commission wanted to establish a minimum standard across the board for states to issue this document.

Who Will This Affect?

According to the Washington Post, only 43% of Americans currently have a driver’s license or state identification card that is compliant with the stricter REAL ID documentation. Obtaining a REAL ID requires an in-person visit to a local licensing department, many of which were operating on reduced hours over the last year.