Illinois IDs no longer federally compliant

Robin Opsahl, Assistant City Editor

Illinois residents will need more than their driver’s licenses to get into airports and federal buildings, as state IDs will no longer comply with federal law beginning Jan. 10.

The Department of Homeland Security denied Illinois an extension on the 2005 Real ID Act in December for not implementing the act’s requirements, such as providing proof of legal U.S. residency when acquiring a driver’s license. David Druker, the spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State, said that meeting all the requirements of the Real ID Act would cost the state up to $60 million.

“We feel that not granting an extension to Illinois is a shortsighted action,” Druker said, “And at the cost of millions, it’s going to make things even harder for the state.”

Druker said that costs include implementing a facial recognition system, verifying citizens’ birth certificates, and checking immigration and social security records.

“Illinois meets 84 percent of the Real ID Act’s requirements,” Druker said. “This decision was misguided.”

Until the state legislature provides funds toward making these improvements, Illinois state residents won’t be able to use their IDs to get into military bases beginning Jan. 10. Rules for using state IDs in airports will be introduced the same day, but will not go into effect for another four months. To access federal buildings such as airports, Illinois residents will have to provide other forms of identification or follow new procedures, Homeland Security spokeswoman Amanda DeGroff said in an email to the Daily.

“Illinois has not yet provided adequate justification to receive an extension on compliance with the requirements of the REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005,” she said in an email to The Daily.

DeGroff said that Illinois, along with five other states including Minnesota and Missouri, had already received two extensions. States were supposed to be federally compliant by 2009.

“Illinois can request an extension at any time if there are new developments or additional relevant information regarding the steps they are taking to comply with the REAL ID Act requirements,” she said.

The law was passed in response to 9/11 to improve the standards of government-issued IDs. However, the bill has been criticized as an invasion of privacy and leaving residents open to identity theft, according to groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Druker said they are working with the DHS and General Assembly to solve this issue, but that it is not likely that Illinois will be able make the necessary updates to the ID system anytime soon, and that residents should prepare.

“The best advice right now is to get a passport,” Druker said, “It’ll take quite a while to get through the state, so frequent fliers and people visiting bases should be prepared.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @robinlopsahl