[JURIST] US Department of Homeland Security [official website] Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] urged state legislatures [press release] to support the federal Real ID Act [PDF text] at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) [official website] on Thursday. The legislation, drafted after the September 11 attacks and designed to discourage illegal immigration, attempts to make it more difficult for terrorists to fraudulently obtain US driver's licenses and other government IDs by mandating that states require birth certificates or similar documentation and also consult national immigration databases before issuing IDs. Chertoff also responded to privacy concerns, stressing that there are no plans to create a federal database of personal information gleaned from state licenses. Responding to Chertoff's prepared remarks, state lawmakers demanded that the federal government fund the program or repeal the legislation by the end of 2007. The law is currently scheduled to take effect in 2008.
Since the Real ID Act passed Congress [JURIST report] last year as part of a larger spending bill, states have insisted that the compliance process is too large and too expensive [JURIST report] to undertake and complete by the deadline. In December 2005 the NCSL, the National Governor's Association, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators [official websites] teamed up and released a report [executive summary, PDF] concluding that states are unprepared to implement the law and may need up to eight years to acquire the requisite money and time to successfully enact the legislation. AP has more.