October 5, 2015

Louisiana Delegation Requests Extension for REAL ID Implementation

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Ralph Abraham, Rep. Charles Boustany, Rep. Cedric Richmond and Rep. Garret Graves sent a letter to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), requesting an extended deadline for Louisiana to be in compliance with the requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005.

“It has become apparent that the State of Louisiana will not be fully compliant in time for the October 10, 2015 deadline, when REAL ID-valid identification will become necessary for entry into federal facilities…We trust that the state wants to continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that Louisiana driver’s licenses and special IDs will still offer the requisite information that protects our national security,” wrote the Members. “With this in mind, we ask you to please grant an exception and extend the REAL ID implementation deadline for the State of Louisiana.”

“The REAL ID law will be expensive and inconvenient for families if Louisiana is not granted an extension. Not everyone has an extra $100+ to renew or get a passport. If the state of Louisiana recognizes our licenses as valid, the federal government should respect this,” said Sen. Cassidy, M.D.

“Under no circumstances should Louisianians be turned away for using their legal driver’s licenses to travel or enter federal buildings. There is a clear precedent for granting extensions, and there is no justifiable reason for DHS to pursue this arbitrary cutoff date,” said Sen. Vitter.

“Louisiana is taking all the necessary steps to comply with new REAL ID standards, but law enforcement officials in the state say we need just a little more time. The Department of Homeland Security should grant this delay as soon as possible to ensure no Louisiana citizens are unnecessarily barred from entry into federal buildings or installations,” said Rep. Boustany, M.D.

“Louisiana travelers don’t need the added expense of purchasing extra identification just to board planes. I’m hopeful DHS will grant the extension to allow our state leaders the time they need to address their concerns with REAL ID and resolve this issue,” said Rep. Abraham, M.D.

The REAL ID Act set national standards for identification cards, including driver’s licenses. In 2008, the Louisiana legislature rejected implementation of the program, citing concerns over privacy issues. Changing course, the State legislature passed a separate bill allowing the standards to be implemented to Louisiana driver’s license and special identification cards, which Governor Bobby Jindal has vetoed.

In today’s letter, the Members request additional time for Louisiana to implement the REAL ID standards, citing proactive measures the state has already taken in ensuring personal identification cards are safe, accurate, and secure while also ensuring an individual’s privacy is not violated. If the state does not comply with the standards by October 10, 2015, residents will be required to present a second form of identification for certain activities, such as boarding an airplane or gaining entrance to federal buildings. Louisiana is one of four U.S. territories currently not in compliance with all DHS-mandated REAL ID requirements.

Click here to read today’s letter.