I recently renewed my Illinois driver’s license, and included with the materials was an explanation about the option to submit an application that complied with REAL ID, the federal standard for a secure identification. I’ve always considered REAL ID to be yet another intrusive part of the post-9/11 War on Terror theater, so I didn’t bother with it.
A few days later, it was still pissing me off, so I decided to take bitching about things to a new level and actually write letters to my Congresscritters. The basic format was the same for all three:
I just received the renewal materials for my Illinois Driver’s License, and there’s a whole separate page detailing the procedures for applying for a REAL ID, with a warning that I’ll need a REAL ID to (among other things) fly on a domestic flight.
Isn’t it time we put an end to this? States such as ours have been struggling with implementing REAL ID for years, and it imposes a tedious burden on millions of drivers.
With my regular Illinois Driver’s License I can rent a car, buy a car, open a bank account, trade stocks, buy a gun, get prescription controlled substances from a pharmacy, get married, and buy a house with a mortgage. (I can do many more important or even risky things with no ID at all.) Surely if my regular ID is good enough for all those other purposes, isn’t it good enough for air travel?
In an era when passengers are thoroughly screened for weapons before boarding a plane, is there any additional benefit to knowing the identity of each passenger? Isn’t it enough that we know they aren’t bringing anything dangerous on board?
Please also note that it’s been more than 15 years since the Real ID Act passed, and it still is not fully implemented as a requirement for flying. Clearly, we’re doing fine without this law. We don’t need it, and we never have.
Please work to roll back this ridiculous and unnecessary law as soon as possible.
I sent that basic letter to my congressional representative, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and to both of my senators, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin.
Senator Durbin never bothered to reply to my message. (To be fair, I didn’t ask him to.) Sadly, that makes his response the best one, because both my other members of Congress support REAL ID.
Senator Duckworth’s office replied with a message that included an explanation of what REAL ID is, what ID I need to get it, and her declaration of support for the law:
As your Senator, I am dedicated to protecting the safety of all Americans and promoting our national security. That includes successfully implementing the REAL ID Act so that it is completed in an efficient, effective and timely manner. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor DHS’s coordination with affected entities, including commercial air travel, during the final phase of REAL ID’s implementation.
Coming in last was Representative Krishnamoorthi’s office, which responded with some similar boilerplate about what REAL ID is and how to apply for it, and then declared his support for it:
As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am committed to protecting all Americans from threats of terrorism at home and abroad. I appreciate you bringing your concerns with the REAL ID Act to my attention, and I will keep your thoughts in mind should similar legislation come to the House floor for a vote.
On the one hand, this is technically better than Duckworth’s response, because at least he says he’ll keep my thoughts in mind. On the other hand, Krishnamoorthi used my message as an excuse to add me to his mailing list so now I get crap from him all the time.
I have the feeling that REAL ID is not going to go away. On the other hand, they did just extend the deadline for complying, yet again. So there’s that.
Update: On September 21, 2021, Senator Durbin’s office got back to me with a completely generic form email that thanks me for contacting him but doesn’t even mention REAL ID.