The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted REAL ID extensions
to all 56 U.S. jurisdictions, ensuring that driver's licenses and ID cards
across the country will achieve a higher security standard, and that all will
continue to be acceptable for official purposes after the May 11, 2008 deadline
mandated by Congress in the REAL ID Act of 2005.
Maine, which had been the only state not granted an extension, committed today
to take significant additional steps to achieve a level of security commensurate
with REAL ID. Specifically, Maine Governor John Baldacci will seek legislation
to halt Maine's current practice of issuing licenses to those not lawfully
present in the United States. Maine will also begin capturing and retaining photographs
of individuals applying for a state ID, even if no ID is issued.
Governor Baldacci has further pledged to submit legislation today to implement
three key security measures: entering into an agreement with U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services and utilize the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements
(SAVE) Program to verify DHS documents presented by non-citizens; setting the
term of any license issued to a lawfully present non-citizen to expire when the
alien's legal status ends; and committing to evaluate ways to ensure that customers
do not have more than one Maine ID, such as facial recognition or similar technology.
Maine's agreement to the measures requested by the department enabled the
state to obtain the needed extension. REAL ID extensions are valid until Dec.
31, 2009, when states must upgrade the security of their systems, to include a
check for lawful status of all applicants, for their licenses and ID cards to
be acceptable for official purposes.
The need for secure documentation was a core 9/11 Commission finding. REAL ID
addresses their finding by setting specific requirements that states must adopt
for compliance in four key areas:
||information and security features that must be incorporated into each card;
||proof of the identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status of an applicant;
||verification of the source documents provided by an applicant; and
||security standards for the offices that issue licenses and ID cards.