As of May, more identification is now required in order to apply for a Texas Driver License, Personal Identification Card, or Election Identification Card, and this new change has brought the state closer to complying with the controversial Real I.D. Act.
Under the new law, applicants must prove they are Texas residents and that they have lived at their residence for at least 30 days. Among the forms of identification and proof of residency are current deeds and mortgages, concealed handgun licenses, medical cards, military documents and school transcripts. For those without photo I.D., under the new Texas voter photo I.D. law, these additional documentation requirements will make it even more difficult to obtain the photo identification they need to vote.
Other states across the country have implemented this law, as well, and many feel it walks the line of invading privacy. They do not want to provide more information than they have to, which is also an issue with the Real I.D. Act.
This act, which has already taken effect in some states, turns driver licenses into national identification cards complete with chips that automatically allow computers to pull up biographic and biometric data.
Many states have been resistant to a national I.D. card and the fact that the federal government could keep track of them.
Though the Real I.D. Act has not yet been fully implemented in the Lone Star State, this additional burdens to obtain a puts Texas one step closer to it.
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005,” which included the “Real ID Act of 2005.”
The Real ID Act mandates that all fifty states must follow specific security, authentication, and issuance regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in issuing driver's license and personal identification cards. On March 4, 2011, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano extended by 20 months (to January 15, 2013) the May 10, 2011 deadline for states to be in full compliance with the federal Real ID regulations. Texas already substantially complies with the Real ID regulations for obtaining or renewing driver's licenses and personal identification cards.
Once the January 15, 2013 deadline has passed, applicants for first time or renewed driver's licenses, personal identification cards, or election identification certificates will need to prove five items of fact to their state driver's license office: full legal name, birth date, citizenship or immigration status, social security number, and proof of permanent residence address.
- State certified original or copy of a birth certificate (not just a hospital issued birth record), or
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or
- Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS, or
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Social Security Card or other proof of social security number and
- Two documents that show a principal residence address, such as a bank statement and a utility bill.
For cases where the current name and the name on the primary identity document(s) are different, first time and renewing applicants must also present:
- Court ordered name change document, and/or
- Certified original or copy of all marriage certificates, issued by the courts, and/or
- Certified original or copy of all divorce decrees, issued by the courts.
In all cases, ID applicants must show a clear trail of name changes originating with the birth name to the current name. This requirement places a disproportionate burden on women who commonly take the last name of their husbands at the time of their marriage, and therefore must show their certified marriage certificate along with the other required ID. Women who have been married more than once must produce all marriage certificates and all divorce decrees.Twenty-four states have expressed opposition to implementing all provisions of the Real ID mandate, but most states now follow Real ID Title II document requirements for issuing new and renewed driver's licenses and personal ID cards. In states, like Texas, that have passed voter photo ID laws, the same Real ID proof of identity documents are required to obtain a free voter photo ID card for would be voters who don't have any other government issued photo ID. It is these people who are most likely to caught in the catch-22 situation of not having the ID required to get the ID they need -- to vote.
To obtain a state certified copy of a birth certificate most state vital records departments require the person requesting their birth certificate to show identification like a driver's license or personal ID card. The catch-22 of this is that people who do not hold a driver's license or personal ID card can't obtain a copy of their state certified birth certificate -- so they can't obtain a driver's license, personal ID card or election identification certificate.
According to a study conducted by National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the National Governors Association and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Real ID Act will cost states more than $11 billion to implement and will have a major impact on services to the public.
All 245 million driver's license and identification card holders in the U.S. will be required to make an in-person visit to their state driver's license office in order to obtain a Real-ID compliant license after January 2013. People who have never had, or needed, a driver's license or ID card will also have to make an in-person visit to their state driver's license office, if they want to vote or even to request Social Security benefits.
Going to the state driver's license station has never been a walk in the park, but it’s likely to get even more difficult under the stringent federal identification rules required by the 2005 Real ID Act. 245 million Americans will have to dig out documents such as Social Security cards and certified birth certificates to obtain or renew their driver’s licenses. People who do not already have a certified birth certificate issued from their birth state's vital records agency will have go to the trouble and expense of getting a certified copy of their birth certificate. According to a Brennan Center for Justice study as many as 7% of United States citizens – 13 million individuals – do not have ready access to their their birth certificate.
Homeless veterans, battered women seeking safety, people thrown out of their homes by bank foreclosure, and others who have unexpectedly fallen on hard times and are temporarily living with relatives or in shelters or out of the trunk of their car (if they are lucky enough to still have a car) will have difficulty obtaining and renewing a Real ID driver's license because of that law's "documented proof of permanent residency" requirement.
By the end of the year, close to four million homes will have been repossessed since 2008 -- a number that could double before the foreclosure crisis ends. When you consider how many people are housed in those eight million family homes, it adds up to an alarming number of people who may lack the proof of permanent residence address documentation required to obtain ID.
Without that Real ID, they will be left without access to everything from welfare to health care to Social Security to winter heating assistance to the voting booth.