The REAL-ID Act is about the database

At yesterdays first meeting of a new Minnesota ‘Legislative Working Group on REAL-ID Compliance’, state lawmakers’ concerns centered on (1) whether residents showing state-issued IDs will be prevented from boarding domestic flights, or harassed and delayed by the TSA, if the state doesn’t agree to ‘comply’ with the REAL-Act Act to the satisfaction of the DHS, and (2) what compliance with the REAL-ID Act would mean for the state’s database of information about people with Minnesota drivers’ licenses or state ID cards.
The DHS has been trying to mislead state officials and the public about both these issues. Understanding both, and separating fact from DHS fiction and innuendo, is key to understanding the REAL-ID Act.
A report from a legislative analysts with the legislature’s research department distributed at yesterday’s meeting asserts that ‘At some unspecified point in time (which could be in 2016), a REAL ID-compliant form of documentation will become required to fly in scheduled airline service.’ But – oddly for a purported legislative analysis or research report – no authority is cited for this alleged legal ‘requirement’.
In fact, as we testified yesterday and as we have confirmed through more than a decade of litigation, research, and FOIA requests, this key claim – the threat being used by the DHS to induce reluctant states to accede to DHS requests for ‘compliance’ – has no basis in any publicly-disclosed law or regulation. People fly without ID every day, and the TSA has procedures for that, as we’ve heard them testify in court. People without ID may be (unlawfully) harassed and delayed at TSA checkpoints and airline check-in counters, but the TSA’s responses to our FOIA requests for its daily reports on how many people try to fly without ID show that almost all of these people are allowed to fly.

This post was published at Papers Please on January 8th, 2016.