In an effort to improve security after 9/11, Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to set federal standards for identification cards.

But in early December, the Department of Homeland Security delayed the ID requirements another two years. 

What You Need To Know

  • DHS has extended the Real ID deadline to May 7, 2025

  • The requirement has been pushed back another two years due to the continued impacts of COVID-19 

  • Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to improve airport security after 9/11

  • Assemblymember Miguel Santiago has been hosting workshops in California’s 54th district to help Angelenos apply for a Real ID

The agency has already extended its implementation date three times. Previously, the requirement was supposed to go into effect on May 23, 2023, but now travelers will have until May 7, 2025, to update their IDs.

Assembly member Miguel Santiago, who represents California’s 54th District in Los Angeles, spoke with “Inside the Issues” guest host Ariel Wesler about why the Real ID requirements are important despite the 20-year delay.

“The idea is that you get a federal ID which we call the Real ID here in California that has a little gold stamp on there, and that this would prevent somebody who shouldn’t have an ID of that nature from getting on an airplane or a federal building to prevent what we saw during 911,” said Santiago.

The Department of Homeland Security stated that the most recent delay was due to the lingering impacts of COVID-19, which has made it more difficult for many Americans to get the new identification cards. Across the country, states have had less traffic to DMVs and less employees to process Real ID applications, causing a significant backlog over the course of the pandemic. 

Santiago noted that many immigrants, seniors and low income communities in California have struggled to apply for the new ID cards due to transportation and language barriers, but his office has been working to make the process more accessible.

His team has hosted several workshops throughout his district where residents can walk up to backyards or community sites and where DMV employees are available to help people fill out the Real ID paperwork.

“The travel was right down the street and people made a very quick and easy appointment,” said Santiago. “We have the ability to talk in almost any language available in the neighborhood and we got people through very quickly.”

The California lawmaker added that these actions have significantly increased participation in the neighborhoods he represents, which encompasses Boyle Heights and Koreatown.

“People who showed up to a community organization that we were partnering with, felt at home because they had a relationship there, and they were easily processed and felt comfortable about going to a place they recognize and trust,” Santiago said.

In order to obtain a Real ID card, Santiago recommends that people make an appointment with the DMV to reduce wait time. Californians should then come prepared with all the necessary documentation for the application. Each person must present their social security card, proof of identification, such as a passport or birth certificate, and two different documents that prove California residency, such as utility bill, vehicle registration card or bank statement. 

Even though travelers have two more years before the Real ID deadline, Santiago says people should apply now.

“I would urge people in California, nonetheless, to go out and get it as soon as possible because that time comes quick,” he said.

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