Editor In Chief
Starting on Nov. 30, 2017, Washington state plans to redesign the state’s driver’s licenses and ID cards in order to adjust to stricter federal requirements. The end result would be the enactment of a two-tier system for obtaining licenses.
With this new bill enacted, standard licenses would be designated with a statement such as, “federal restrictions apply,” or “not valid for federal purposes.”
This new system for obtaining licenses will do little to affect those who simply want a driver’s license; however, for those who will eventually need a passport or other screening processes to travel abroad, they will require the enhanced licensing for these services.
The reasoning behind this change is to move the state into compliance with the 2005 REAL ID act. This act was passed by Congress following the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. The REAL ID act prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and identity cards unless the Department of Homeland Security has determined that the state meets its standards. Examples of where this method would be used include gaining access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants and boarding commercial aircrafts.
Gov. Jay Inslee was opposed to the federal law while a part of congress and is still opposed to the policy although he said he understands why it will happen eventually.
“The federal government is at some point going to drop the hammer and we don’t have a lot of options,” Inslee said.
One group of individuals who will be largely affected by this law is immigrants living in the U.S., as they will be forced to get a marked license. The impact would be severe, as there is an estimated community of 230,000 immigrants living in the state without legal status. In the past, Washington and New Mexico have been the only state that don’t require proof of legal presence for a state license or ID. This new law will take away that policy and force illegal immigrants to either gain their citizenship or be denied access to federal facilities.
More than two dozen states have not fulfilled the nation ID law mandates that require licenses and ID cards to have specific security enhancements in order for people to prove that they are living legally within the United States.
As of December 2014, more than 460,000 Washington residents have revived enhanced driver’s licenses compared to the 5.4 million people currently living within the State with standard licenses.
Washington state residents will be required to have an enhanced license if they intend to have greater access around the country. The current cost of a regular license in Washington state is $54 while an enhanced license is $72.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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