Soon, Washington residents may need a passport or other federally issued identification to board commercial flights or enter federal buildings because Washington-issued licenses won’t be acceptable.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the state this week that standard driver licenses and identification cards will have to comply with federal rules requiring proof of U.S. residency or citizenship in order to be valid for federal purposes, according to the Associated Press.
The Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID program already requires states to ask for proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency for state-issued identification that would be acceptable to get into federal buildings. The same also will be required — perhaps as soon as next year — to use state-issued identification for airport security lines.
Most states do not issue drivers licenses without proof of residency or citizenship. Washington and New Mexico are the only states that issue standard driver’s licenses and identification cards regardless of U.S. residency or citizenship status. Other states, including California, issue drivers licenses to people without documentation, but the licenses and identification cards indicate that the identification card is not valid for federal purposes.
Washington had an extension to comply with the REAL ID law. But this week, the Department of Homeland Security declined to continue to Washington’s extension and gave the state three months to comply, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Licensing developed a proposal that would have continued to allow undocumented immigrant drivers to get standard licenses and expanded the state’s existing Enhanced ID program. But the proposal died in the 2015 legislative session.
In 2007, the Washington state legislature passed a bill opposing the federal REAL ID mandates.
Associated Press: Standard Washington driver’s license soon won’t get you aboard aircraft
The Seattle Globalist: New state proposal would still allow undocumented immigrant drivers