Be it Nazi Germany’s much dreaded Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) or the Soviet State’s equally deadly People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs — abbreviated NKVD — (Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del), Hollywood has almost enshrined the words “papers, please” into popular culture. And with those two simple spoken words mouthed by the right evil screen villain, the audience knows immediately that things have just taken a turn for the worse for the good guys.
Putting aside movie make believe, millions of American citizens just may see a very disturbing version of life imitating art sometime in the very near future. As reported by CNN Money via WTVR of Richmond, Virgina on Oct. 16, 2015, and also by the Watertown Daily Times (New York) on Oct. 18, 2015, the residents of Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York are about to find out that if they want to catch an airline flight anywhere within the borders of the United States of America, they better have their passports up to date. Either that, or have roughly $175 to drop on all the costs to get one.
In an ironic example of unintended bi-partisanship, it was President George W. Bush who followed recommendations of the 9/11 Commission when he signed off on the REAL ID Act in 2005. The law initially intended to made fake IDs harder for criminals to obtain. After assuming office just a few years later, the Obama Administration has proceeded full steam ahead in ordering the Department of Homelands Security (DHS) to ensure every state, commonwealth, territory and the District of Columbia comply with the new regulation.
As reported, “The REAL ID Act forces all U.S. states and territories to demand more proof of identity when issuing IDs, such as a verified original copy of a person’s birth certificate. Plus, it also increases the technology present in the government-issued cards.” But what the feds didn’t factor into the equation was either a few states simply not trusting the Federal Government, or at least one of the four essentially blowing it off until it’s too late.
What have been dubbed “enhanced drivers’ licences” (EDL) is what most the the states have already adopted. States such as North Carolina and South Carolina have implemented EDLs without having to passing the cost on to the taxpayers.
However, while New York is under the belief they’ll be granted a waiver, “but it has not yet received one,” the state is offering EDL’s for an additional $30 plus the standard cost of a driver’s license. As reported, even though residents of the Empire State have been offered the new EDL’s, they’ve never been informed that without one, they won’t be able to fly domestically without a federally issued passport.
Lawmakers in New Hampshire and Minnesota have reportedly passed laws making it illegal to complying with the new federal act. At least until Dec. 31, 2015, Minnesotans can still use their state issued licence or state ID. But after that date, it’s passports only if they want to fly anywhere in the nation.
New Hampshire received a federal waiver that lasts until June 1, 2016, but the prospects for the legislature reversing itself are up in the air. Governor Margaret Hassan (D) reportedly plead with the state’s Republican-led State Senate to pass a new mandate, but the Senate killed the bill.
The DHS granted Louisiana a waiver that lasts until October 1, 2016. While the state’s legislature tried to pass a law to comply with the federal mandate, Governor Bobby Jindal (R) vetoed it.
According to the State Department’s official website, the cost for a first time passport applicant adult (16 years or older) must pay $140 for the passport book and card application fee. After that, a $25 execution fee is tacked on. But before any of that can happen, the applicant must first purchase out of pocket the passport photos themselves. Of course, any photo won’t do as they must meet government requirements. Many drugstores and department stores across the nation offer the service, usually charging between $10 to $15 per set of two.
In the meantime, ten states and DC have already passed laws enabling illegal aliens to be issued drivers’ licences. As reported by the Washington Free Beacon on Aug. 20, 2015, “California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C, issue driver’s licenses [this past summer] to illegal immigrants. The states are estimated to have an illegal immigrant population of 4,120,000 combined.” To date, there has been no nation-wide discussion regarding the contradictory laws.