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Washington state’s extension request rejected, state lacks information about REAL ID Act’s implementation in 2016
 
MURRAY: “Washingtonians deserve timely, accurate information so they can go about their daily lives without unnecessary stress or unreasonable burden.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, requesting the Department to clarify its next steps on REAL ID enforcement after rejecting Washington state’s compliance extension request in October. People across Washington state have contacted Senator Murray to express concern about DHS’ decision and what it means for Washington ID-holders after the state falls out of compliance on January 10, 2016. Although Secretary Johnson has pledged to provide 120 days’ notice before requiring REAL ID-compliance at TSA screening areas, Senator Murray will continue to push DHS to provide as much time and flexibility as possible for Washington state as the Department considers its next steps.

 

“I have heard from a number of my constituents who are confused and frustrated by what this decision means for Washington state and its residents. This uncertainty is unacceptable,” said Senator Murray. “As the Department continues to formulate its next steps, I urge you to consider the millions of Washington state residents who have been affected by DHS’ decision and to provide my home state with the space and time it needs to respond to REAL ID’s next phase.”

 

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 and DHS began enforcing the law in 2014.

 

Full text of the letter:

 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

301 7th St., NW

Washington, DC 20528

 

 

Dear Secretary Johnson:

 

I write today regarding REAL ID and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recent decision to reject Washington state’s request to renew its compliance extension. I have heard from a number of my constituents who are confused and frustrated by what this decision means for Washington state and its residents. This uncertainty is unacceptable.

 

As you are aware, Washington state was in compliance with REAL ID until October 10, 2015, when its compliance extension expired. On September 21, 2015, the director of Washington’s Department of Licensing, Pat Kohler, requested that DHS renew Washington state’s compliance extension through November 30, 2017. Citing a lack of progress towards repealing state statutes barring REAL ID compliance, among other things, the Department formally rejected Director Kohler’s request on October 30, 2015. As a result, Washington state will fall out of compliance with REAL ID on January 10, 2016.

 

While the Department has been explicit about its decision and its rationale, DHS has failed to clearly and adequately explain the rejection’s implications for Washington state ID-holders. In recent weeks, Washington state residents have heard conflicting and concerning information about the decision and how it will affect their ability to pass through airport security screenings and to access critical federal benefits and services. Washingtonians deserve timely, accurate information so they can go about their daily lives without unnecessary stress or unreasonable burden.

 

I understand that next month, you will be announcing the timeline for REAL ID’s Phase Four implementation, which includes Transportation Security Administration screenings. As the Department continues to formulate its next steps, I urge you to consider the millions of Washington state residents who have been affected by DHS’ decision and to provide my home state with the space and time it needs to respond to REAL ID’s next phase.

 

As always, thank you for your efforts on behalf of the country and Washington state. I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to your reply.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Patty Murray

United States Senate