Beginning in October 2020 you’ll need a federally approved REAL ID or a passport to fly on a commercial airplane in the US and many members of the community are unaware of the change.
The Department of Homeland Security now requires your driver license or identification card be REAL ID compliant if you plan on boarding a domestic flight or enter most federal facilities, including military bases.
Assemb. Jim Patterson, with the help of the DMV, set up a workshop on Friday at Clovis West High School aimed at helping clarify any misunderstandings and to give community members a hands-on tutorial on how to get your papers in the right order. Around 250 people reserved a spot.
What was once a grey area between the state of California and the Federal Government has now been ironed out, easing the difficulties of acquiring a REAL ID.
“There has been a lot of confusion. There were huge waiting lines when it began and it was really unclear, the stress between the interpretation of California and the Department of Homeland Security at the federal level. It took a while to iron all that out, but the fact of the matter is that there are now requirements and they are very solid and there is no question about what documents you need,” Patterson said.
Patterson felt having a forum for concerns and frustrations would offer the community a chance to get their questions answered.
California DMV director Kathleen Webb and many staff members came to the event as well to give community members any answers they needed to get their paperwork figured out.
For many in the community, the importance of getting their REAL ID has flown under the radar. Even the simplest flights in the U.S. could now be more difficult if steps aren’t taken to get the right identification.
“It’s important that we got these details ironed out and I think with the deadline approaching, we can do more to get our community more aware of the situation,” Patterson said. “I’m here to fix problems.”
Patterson and the California DMV representatives helped clarify any issues and some community members were in and out of the meeting in just minutes after receiving proper guidance from the professionals.
“There has been a lot of misinformation out there and we really want to educate people and let them know what kind of documents they need when they come to a field office to obtain that REAL ID,” Deputy Director of Public Affairs Greg Lawson said. “We also want to let people know that getting a REAL ID is optional, it is not something you have to get, but if they do play to fly within the U.S., consider getting one.”
The application for a REAL ID, which will be required by October 2020, is basically three different parts.
You need your identity documents like a birth certificate, you need your social security card or number and then two residency documents which is like your home address or proof of where you live and that can be found on a utility bill or document of that nature.
“It’s actually really simple. Once they have all of those, they can come down to a DMV office and get it taken care of. They can fill out the driver’s license stuff online, so they are more prepared and really, when you have all of those documents and if you’ve made an appointment, in 15 minutes you are out of there,” Lawson said.
The federal mandate was all part of a series of regulations in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. There were serious issues of identification and the commission overseeing the issue put in a series of recommendations, which are now ironed out between all 50 states.
“A standardized REAL ID that can’t be forged or fudge that allows you full access to travel, but your identity is correctly known between several pieces of identification,” Patterson said.
Over the last two or three years, many of the inquiries into Assemb. Patterson’s have been on this issue and that was one of the reasons to address it and clarify it moving forward. Patterson pointed to tensions between state and federal governments for contributing to the lack of clarity on the issue.
“This has been one of the most significant pieces of inquiry that we’ve received in my office. A lot of people have been confused. The fight the state had with the federal government was utterly unnecessary. The requirements were clear, the state of California should’ve paid close attention to it instead of running so close to the deadlines.”
Patterson explained that it got to a point where the California process for obtaining the REAL ID was not going to be recognized by the federal government because California wanted to do it one way and the federal government said the rest of the states were doing another way.
Now that issue is in the past, there are no longer discrepancies between the two and individuals can now get that taken care of.
Community members are encouraged to make an appointment at the DMV as soon as possible as you will need to have a valid passport or other federally approved document, such as a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, beginning October 1, 2020.
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