Who Needs A No-Fly List When You Can Just Ground 91 Million Citizens?
from the you-know-what-a-valid-driver's-license-is-good-for?-DRIVING,-citizen. dept
Great news for people who think there’s just too damn much freedom in this country: the government’s “no-fly” list is about to get much, much longer.
The citizens of several US states may soon find that they can’t use their drivers’ licenses to get into federal facilities or even board planes.
Enforcement of a 2005 federal law that sets identification standards, known as “Real ID,” has been long-delayed. But now Department of Homeland Security officials say enforcement is imminent. The “Real ID” law requires states to implement certain security features before they issue IDs and verify the legal residency of anyone to whom they issue an ID card.
For the residents of Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington (along with American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands), this means their ID cards are perfectly legal within those states, but only as long as they stay in those states. (And, apparently, never need to enter a government building — like, say, to acquire a new, compliant ID card).
States that have not complied with the REAL ID Act — including Missouri and Minnesota, which both passed legislation telling the federal government to take a hike — will not be granted extensions. Residents in those states will now unofficially join countless others on the government’s “can’t board a plane” list. On the bright side, they’ll at least have some idea as to why they’ve been denied access, but will be similarly limited in their redress options. (Move to another state?)
The rationale behind the law — which carries with it privacy-undermining data sharing requirements — is, of course, terrorist-related.
The statute is in part a response to the suggestion of the 9/11 Commission, which noted that four of the 19 hijackers used state-issued ID cards to board planes.
Not that the new law would prevent the same thing from happening. It may make it slightly more difficult to do so, but it’s not as though a halfway decent fake wouldn’t fool our nation’s crack team of under-qualified security guards, who seem much more interested in dumping out breast milk and feeling up people with medical conditions. For that matter, it’s been proven more than once that having an approved government ID really isn’t integral to the boarding process.
There are other options available for residents of these states, should the TSA move forward with enforcing the REAL ID law. (The DHS has suggested it won’t be waiting around for the holdout states and territories.) But these options are mostly useless. The New York Times reports people will be allowed to present other government-issued ID, like passports — something domestic travelers rarely carry with them.
The federal government is now forcing states into compliance with the law by using the sort of leverage it never should: its constituents. It’s robbing law-abiding citizens of the ability to board airplanes or enter government buildings to force states to fall in line.