WASHINGTON- Americans born after Dec. 1, 1964, will have to get more secure driver’s licenses in the next six years under ambitious post-9/11 security rules to be unveiled today by federal officials.
The Homeland Security Department has spent years crafting the final regulations for the REAL ID Act, a law designed to make it harder for terrorists, illegal immigrants and con artists to get government-issued identification.
The effort once envisioned to take effect in 2008 has been pushed back in the hopes of winning over skeptical state officials.
Even with more time, more federal help and technical advances, REAL ID still faces stiff opposition from civil liberties groups.
To address some of those concerns, the government now plans to phase in a secure ID initiative that Congress passed into law in 2005. Now, DHS plans a key deadline in 2011, and then further measures to be enacted three years later, according to congressional staffers who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an announcement had not yet been made.
Without discussing details, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff promoted the final rules for REAL ID during a meeting Thursday with an advisory council.
“We worked very closely with the states in terms of developing a plan that I think will be inexpensive, reasonable to implement and produce the results,” he said. “This is a win-win. As long as people use driver’s licenses to identify themselves for whatever reason there’s no reason for those licenses to be easily counterfeited or tampered with.”