The battle between the Department of Homeland Security and five states heated up last month, and air travelers could be caught in between.
The Department of Homeland Security issued formal memos to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maine, Pennsylvania and South Carolina denying their requests for extensions on complying with the federal Real ID Act. If the states don’t take measures to comply, the five states’ residents could be barred from boarding commercial flights using a driver's license beginning in 2018.
The memo warned the five states that starting Jan. 30, 2017, federal buildings, military bases and nuclear power plants may not accept their driver's licenses and state IDs for entry.
Real ID was passed in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, imposing tougher requirements for proof of legal U.S. residency. Most states already have complied with the stricter requirements, but some said they needed more time and requested extensions of the deadline.
Minnesota, Missouri and Washington also have been notified that they are not in compliance with federal law, but were not issued the memo. Twenty-three other states and the District of Columbia already comply, while others are under review or have been granted limited extensions.
Some states are resisting compliance because they feel the federal government is overstepping its authority and gathering too much state resident data, though many simply said they could not get their systems ready in time. Some political think tanks are encouraging the states to not comply, predicting that the federal government will not go through with its threat to bar air travelers from using their state IDs.