Toolkit | Access to Driver’s Licenses

Toolkit | Access to Driver’s Licenses



Uniform vs. Marked Licenses

Marked Driver’s Licenses Are Wrong for This State

Talking points on how marked driver’s licenses invite discrimination, provide a pathway to deportation, undermine public safety, and make a state’s residents a target for discrimination in other states. (NILC)

Restoring Driving Privileges to Immigrants

Makes the case for why uniform (unmarked) driver’s licenses maximize the benefits to law enforcement and public safety. (ACLU*)

Undocumented Immigrants Shouldn’t Have a “Scarlet Letter” on Their License

Makes the case for why California should adopt uniform (unmarked) driver’s licenses and explains how not having a driver’s license affects the author’s own family. (Maria Genis, Fusion)


The REAL ID Act: Questions and Answers

The questions answered in this FAQ are: What is the REAL ID Act? What is the REAL ID Modernization Act? What is the current deadline for full compliance with REAL ID’s requirements? How many states has DHS certified as compliant with REAL ID requirements? Can states issue licenses and cards that are not acceptable for federal purposes? Can you use licenses that are marked as not acceptable for federal purposes at airports in order to clear airport security and board a plane before the May 3, 2023, deadline? Will other federal agencies continue to accept cards that do not comply with REAL ID before the May 3, 2023, deadline? Do REAL ID’s requirements apply to all interactions with federal agents or to enter all federal buildings? How can you tell if your license is REAL ID–compliant? Why has DHS postponed the deadline for enforcement of REAL ID’s requirements? What does compliance with REAL ID’s requirements mean? What is the difference between state-based enforcement and card-based enforcement? What documents other than a REAL ID–compliant card will be acceptable as proof of identity when enforcement begins? What happens if you arrive at the airport without identification? What steps is DHS taking to regulate acceptance of mobile or digital driver’s licenses? What does the DHS request for information say about how verification of mDLs for REAL ID purposes might work? What are some potential concerns about verification of mDLs for REAL ID purposes? What can you do now about DHS’s use of mDL’s to verify identity for REAL ID purposes? How has REAL ID’s requirement that states provide access to their driver’s licenses databases to other states been implemented? What are some problems with or questions about S2S? Does the REAL ID Act make all lawfully present immigrants eligible for a REAL ID–compliant license? If a person has a license marked “not acceptable for official federal purposes,” does this mean that the license-holder is an unauthorized immigrant? (NILC)

Basic Facts About REAL ID

This one-pager addresses some basic misconceptions about the REAL ID Act’s requirements. It explains that states can issue licenses that are not acceptable as proof of identity for certain official federal purposes but that can be accepted as identity for all other federal, state, and local purposes. It confirms that these licenses can be made available to U.S. citizens and lawfully present immigrants as well as to undocumented immigrants. It also describes the meaning of “official federal purposes” and the alternative documents that federal agencies may accept as ID for such purposes. Finally, it explains the Transportation Security Administration rules on proof of identity at airports. (NILC).

A “Marked” License Is Not Proof of Immigration Status

Explains why the marked licenses issued under new laws providing an avenue for eligible undocumented drivers to obtain a license are not proof that the drivers who have them are undocumented. (NILC)

REAL ID Enforcement: January 19, 2015–October 1, 2020

A table that summarizes the enforcement schedule for REAL ID. (NILC)

Summary of the Driver’s License Provisions in the REAL ID Act of 2005 as Made Part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief

Summarizes REAL ID provisions regarding information required on the driver’s license, minimum driver’s license issuance standards, and immigration requirements. (NILC)

REAL ID Act of 2005

One-page description of REAL ID, current federal position on implementation, and concerns it raises. (ACLU*)

Issuance of Second-Tier Driver’s Licenses Without Proof of Legal Residence Under REAL ID Act

Letter from “law professors whose teaching and scholarship focus on immigration law” to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut confirming that issuance of second-tier licenses to state residents who do not have proof of lawful presence does not run afoul of the REAL ID Act. (1/15/13)

Administrator of Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to State Senator Brian Frosh, Chair of Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee

Letter confirming passage of SB 715 will not negatively impact the state’s compliance with the REAL ID Act. (Maryland MVA, 3/14/13)

U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to Washington State Governor

Confirming Washington’s Enhanced Driver’s License policy complies with REAL ID. (U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, 7/16/08)

The Maryland Highway Safety Act (S.B. 715) and REAL ID Compliance

Discusses SB 715 and how passage will not endanger the state’s REAL ID compliance. (CASA de Maryland*)

ACLU website with extensive information and resources on REAL ID.

Identification Issues

Why Limiting Acceptance of a Driver’s License as Identification Will Harm Public Safety

Here’s what the experts say: Accepting driver’s licenses as identification helps law enforcement officers. Police can use their resources more efficiently if driver’s licenses are acceptable as identification. Driver’s license databases are a law enforcement tool. Ability to prove identity improves the relationship between community members and the police. And when people can identify themselves with government-issued IDs, they can open bank accounts, which reduces the risk that they will be targeted by criminals. (NILC)

Recommendations Regarding Identity Documents and Verification Procedures for Driver’s License and ID Card Applicants

As states pass new laws authorizing the issuance of driver’s licenses to eligible state residents regardless of their immigration status, it is critical to ensure that document and document verification requirements do not prevent drivers from obtaining licenses. This issue brief outlines some steps that advocates can pursue to help drivers identify themselves. (NILC)

Sample List: Documents to Establish Identity/Age & Residence

The National Immigration Law Center has prepared a sample list of documents that establish (1) identity and age as well as (2) residence, which advocates can propose to their states.

Proof of Identity in States that Do Not Require Lawful Status to Obtain a Driver’s License

Consular ID Card

Mexican government PowerPoint presentation explaining what a consular ID card (also known as amatrícula consular) is, documents required to obtain one, and security features.

Basic Facts about the Matrícula Consular

Answers these questions: What is the matrícula consular? What are the requirements to obtain one? How do consulates verify the validity of documents presented to obtain a matrícula consularand ensure that duplicate IDs are not issued? What are the card’s security features? Does the U.S. government allow the matrícula consular to be used as proof of identity? (NILC)

* This organization gave NILC permission to upload this item to NILC’s website.