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State lawmakers predict problems with REAL ID Act implementation

[JURIST] State lawmakers have expressed concern about possible problems expected to accompany the implementation of the REAL ID Act [PDF text], fearing that they will not be able to comply with the law's requirements before a May 2008 deadline. The legislation, drafted after the Sept 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. The law is also meant to make it more difficult for potential terrorists to board aircraft or enter federal government buildings. Since the law passed Congress [JURIST report] last May, states have said that the compliance process is too large and too expensive to undertake and complete by the deadline. New York City passed a resolution asking that the law be repealed, Kentucky and Washington are currently considering passing such resolutions, and the New Hampshire House passed a bill [text] last week that would allow the state to opt out of compliance with the act entirely.

In response to the states' concerns, the National Governor's Association [official website], the National Conference of State Legislatures [official website], and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators [official website] teamed up and released a report [PDF text] concluding that states are unprepared to implement the law [press release] and may need up to eight years to acquire the requisite money and time to successfully enact the legislation. These organizations hope the report will "bring state concerns about REAL ID to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security." The law's supporters believe that the states' claims are unfounded and that neither money, nor the time allotted for the law's enactments should be a problem. Saturday's New York Times has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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