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Trump Extends REAL ID Deadline

Expiring Driver Licenses Granted Extension

President Trump said March 23 that he is pushing back a pending deadline for Americans who will be required to have the new REAL ID credential to board domestic flights.

Trump said he is postponing the Oct. 1 deadline, citing the coronavirus crisis. Trump’s decision was influenced by crowding at state departments of motor vehicles from people trying to meet the looming deadline.

“At a time when we’re asking Americans to maintain social distancing,” said Trump, “we do not want to require people to go to their local DMV.”

At the White House briefing Monday, Trump said “very soon” in response to requests for more specifics. He did not release any new deadline extension dates, but requests from lawmakers ask for a delay of at least one year. REAL ID application documents can be submitted online, says the Department of Homeland Security.

Governors and lawmakers, including Montana Senator Steve Daines, had asked for the extension in recent days, citing states’ inability to process REAL ID applications during the coronavirus crisis. Last week, Daines introduced a bipartisan bill urging the Administration to delay enforcement of REAL ID for at least one year in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Daines also sent a letter to Trump March 3: “While the State of Montana continues working to implement REAL ID in a timely fashion, large numbers of Montanans will not have REAL ID compliant identification by the October 2020 deadline,” Daines wrote. “I ask that you grant an emergency waiver for the State of Montana for one year, as they are working in good faith to comply with the law. I look forward to continuing to work with you to protect Montanans’ privacy and security.”

Many states have reduced or completely shut down motor vehicle services as part of their response to the public health emergency. Access to Roosevelt County offices is currently by appointment only. A Roosevelt County treasurer’s office representative said appointments can be made through the state website, dojmt.gov/driving.

“For now, Montanans can delay applying for REAL ID driver licenses at their Motor Vehicle Division driver license examiner station if they wish,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. “This development, together with our having secured a directive from the governor to allow Montanans with driver licenses that expire in March, April and May to delay renewing those licenses for 90 days, will protect our motoring public and staff from unnecessary contact while we all practice social distancing.”

The REAL ID Act was designed to help prevent terrorist attacks and reduce the number of licenses granted to undocumented immigrants. States have been attempting to comply with the 2005 domestic security program. By law, states are mandated to issue IDs with counterfeit-resistant security features. Applicants must provide several documents proving their identity and legal U.S. residency.

Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribal ID cards aren’t currently sufficient on their own for primary documentation when applying for REAL ID credentials. According to the Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division website, tribal IDs, especially those without a clear expiration date, will not be accepted as primary documentation for application purposes. Federal law does not allow a military or tribal ID to be used as a step 1 document. They may be used as an alternative document in combination with a valid birth certificate.

About one-third of Americans have a REAL ID credential, according to DHS data.

The federal government had refused to give an extension in recent months. It was expected that starting Oct. 1, every U.S. air traveler would be required to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification, such as a U.S. passport, to board a domestic flight as the last phase of implementation of the law.

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