Massachusetts license to get makeover

Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation that will bring Massachusetts up to current standards for federal identification as mandated by the federal REAL ID Act, according to a press release.

New REAL ID compliant cards will begin to be issued in the fall of 2017.

“I thank the members of the Legislature for their attention to the Commonwealth’s compliance with federal REAL ID security standards and ensuring that all applicants must show proof of lawful presence in order to obtain any Massachusetts credential,” said Baker, according to the press release. “The security standards and proper federal documentation requirements set out in this bill are imperative as the Registry begins the gradual process of implementation so credential holders may continue to board domestic flights and enter federal buildings in the coming years.”

The Legislature adopted the governor’s amendment for REAL ID compliance after it was first filed in October 2015. The legislation states that a REAL ID-compliant license and a Massachusetts license will only be issued to individuals with proof of lawful presence. That is to say, the amendment will ensure that undocumented immigrants do not obtain either type of license under the new system.

A REAL ID will be the sole form of identification that will allow Massachusetts residents to enter federal facilities, and once enforcement begins, the ability to board domestic flights. Residents with Massachusetts IDs are not yet subject to the enforcement rules set by the Department of Homeland Security because the Commonwealth has received a compliance extension.

“The legislation Governor Baker has signed into law is an important clarification that eliminates any doubt as to who actually qualifies for a driver’s license,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading).  “By explicitly prohibiting the issuance of a driver’s license to individuals who do not have lawful presence in the United States, we are not only upholding the security and integrity of our licensing system, but also moving Massachusetts into full compliance with the federal Real ID Act.”

The REAL ID Act is a product of the 9/11 Commission, and sets minimum standards that states must meet while manufacturing and issuing driver’s licenses and state resident identification cards.


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