Military and Police

New Federal Law Will Make Some State Driver’s Licenses and IDs Worthless for Air Travel

For the last several years, some states’ air travelers have been eking along, getting by with their state-issued standard driver’s licenses and IDs.

As the years have passed, the feds have granted non-compliant states extensions for complying with the REAL ID Act. This puts Americans from every U.S. state and territory in jeopardy.

But, reportedly, that will end in 2020. As of now, people may still use any state-issued driver’s license or ID to travel by air domestically (within the U.S.) and to access certain federal facilities.

Due to “ID2020,” by October 2020 the federal government will no longer accept as identification the standard state-issued driver’s license and ID some states issue to Americans, legal immigrants, and —here’s the problem— illegal immigrants. I wrote about this issue back in 2017, highlighting the problems created nationally by states that issue driver’s licenses to people in the U.S. illegally.

Some states such as Maine have expressed valid privacy concerns, regarding what information the feds will collect and what databases they will maintain. However, according to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), a global privacy rights watchdog, it’s also true “the Act also requires that before a state issues an ID, they must verify the person’s lawful status in order to prevent undocumented aliens from receiving IDs. States are required to use a federal system called the ‘Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements’ to verify a person’s status.” This is an obvious sticking point for virtual and declared “sanctuary” states.

Beyond that date, the feds will require folks from states with non-compliant licenses and IDs to use specific alternatives. These include a “Green Card” or U.S. Military ID. If you don’t have either of these, you must shell out for either a U.S. or a foreign passport, a state enhanced driver’s license (EDL) —essentially a second driver’s license— or a state enhanced ID card (EID).

Why? Well, though the states involved don’t put this on their informational websites, it’s because they have been rebuffing federal anti-terrorism identification requirements for safer air travel. Above, I said “due to the federal…” But, in reality, it isn’t the fed’s fault. I’d like to believe the feds are trying to keep Americans safe from terrorism.

The true problem lies with states that provide driver’s licenses and state IDs to people who are not in the United States legally. People risking dealing with the cartels to come to the U.S. illegally is something “sanctuary” states encourage by their tacit and overt protections for people who’ve broken immigration laws—even violent felons. Your safety is not as important as these leftist leaders’ virtue—well, more accurately, their virtue signaling.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act way back in 2005 and some states have been resisting implementing it. The act “established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.”

This once again suggests leftist officials care more about illegal immigrants than they do the welfare of law-abiding immigrants and American citizens. These are state government officials responsible for making the laws we are supposed to follow. But they are willing to ignore federal policies even if they place at risk innocent people, in the name of some warped view of social justice.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Watch The Drew Berquist Show

Everywhere, at home or on the go.