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Napolitano to seek lawmakers' support of Real ID

Arizona is poised to comply with Real ID requirements by enhancing the state-issued drivers’ licenses. Gov. Napolitano will seek lawmakers’ approval of the project, her office said Aug. 24. 

Gov. Napolitano said the state will partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to launch a “3-in-1” driver’s license.  “The state of Arizona will enhance the security of the state driver’s license to meet Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements, provide Arizona employers with a secure document that can be used in validating a person’s legal status, and align to satisfy future requirements of Real ID,” her statement said. The Arizona project will require legislative approval, which the Governor has committed to seek,” the statement said.  

By January next year, U.S. and Canadian citizens need to present either a compliant document or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, and proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to enter the U.S.  “Arizona has been a leader among the states on issues related to border security and immigration,” Napolitano said.

 “My hope is that this project will lead to an effective permanent program that can be implemented nationwide.” Moves to comply with Real ID requirements could run into strong opposition in the Legislature.

The Senate passed a memorial, a “postcard” to Congress, early this year challenging Real ID. The memorial’s architect, Sen. Ron Gould, R-3, said the federal mandate is unfunded and may intrude into people’s privacy, giving them a false sense of security when they would be more vulnerable to identity theft. Gould was concerned with the possible use of radio frequency ID tags, which he described as susceptible to identity theft.

Sen. Karen Johnson, R-18, is preparing for another push to prohibit Arizona from enforcing Real ID. She had run a bill this session that never made it to the House floor, despite getting comfortable support in the Senate. The Legislature’s failure to pass Johnson’s bill does not immediately translate to support of the governor’s proposal; different dynamics are at play between opposing a bill and passing one, according to Gould. 

He added: “I wouldn’t have a big objection to this kind of security on passports because passports are for people that are leaving the country. Driver’s licenses are for people that are inside the country and it’s been a time honored tradition in America that we don’t limit our citizen’s travel in the US. (Real ID) would give them the ability to do that.”  He fears that even if the governor’s proposal is voluntary, “if we comply, it just gives more power to the Department of Homeland Security to be able to make it into a quasi travel paper for American citizens in the U.S.”

Napolitano’s office quoted Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as saying, “I applaud the leadership of the state of Arizona who came forward to join us in our effort to bolster security through secure identification. This partnership helps us strike the right balance between security and facilitation, incorporating 21st century technology and innovation.”

The “technologically enhanced” driver’s license, which would be acceptable at U.S. entryways, will be voluntarily and will be more expensive than the standard state driver’s license. It will require proof of citizenship, identity, and residence, her statement said. 

 The Real ID requirements – slated to be issued later this year – are intended to strengthen the underlying document through physical security features and a secure issuance process. Arizona’s new driver’s license is poised to be one of the nation’s first to comply with Real ID requirements. Governor Napolitano will continue to urge the federal government to fully fund Real ID, so it does not become another unfunded mandate to the states,” the statement said.

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