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According to a press release from the Department of Homeland Security, DHS is extending the REAL ID full enforcement date by an additional 19 months - from October 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023.

REAL ID was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Several of the hijackers that day were visa overstays, and REAL ID was intended to strengthen the checks needed to obtain a valid ID.

Although not the intended purpose of REAL ID, illegal aliens cannot obtain REAL ID-compliant licenses and thus would not be able to enter federal buildings or board flights. Enforcement of REAL ID has been pushed back since the end of the 9/11 Commission in 2004.

DHS argues that the pandemic is to blame for the extended enforcement date. “The pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity,” the press release reads.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement:

Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority. As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.

All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the REAL ID Act and related regulations are now compliant with REAL ID security standards and are issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, but DHS says that only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant.

For the press release, please click here.