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Department, Arizona Collaborates on Secure Identification

Department, Arizona Collaborates on Secure Identification

DHS and the State of Arizona Partner to Further Advance Secure Identification Initiatives
Release Date: December 6, 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Memorandum of Agreement Between the State of Arizona & the Department of Homeland Security, (5 pages – 209 KB)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the state of Arizona today signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to enhance the security of state driver’s licenses to offer a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document to U.S. citizen residents and to pledge future compliance with the requirements of REAL ID.

The Arizona agreement, much like those established with the states of Washington, Vermont and New York earlier this year, will serve as an option available to U.S. citizens to satisfy WHTI requirements. DHS announced in June that U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document or government-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship, such as a driver’s license and birth certificate, beginning on Jan. 31, 2008, for admissibility into the United States. The department intends to end the routine practice of accepting oral declarations alone at land and sea ports of entry at that time.

“I value the Governor’s leadership in making Arizona licenses more secure,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “America knows too well how dangerous unsecured licenses can be. The public is way ahead of government when it comes to secure identification. They want protection from identity theft, and they want greater facilitation of lawful trade and travel. Agreements like this one, and the others before it, move secure identification in the right direction, and I urge other states to do the same.”

“Arizonans deal every day with the many complex issues surrounding border security and immigration,” said Governor Janet Napolitano. “I believe this enhanced identification will be a useful tool. It is my hope that the partnership with the Secretary and the agency will support work on this new project throughout the process of its development.”

The state of Arizona will develop a technologically-enhanced driver’s license that will securely validate the identity and U.S. citizenship of Arizona residents who voluntarily apply and qualify. The enhanced driver’s license, which is proposed to be accepted for border-crossing purposes under WHTI, is expected to be slightly more expensive than a standard Arizona driver’s license and will require proof of citizenship, identity, and residence. The enhanced document also will be aligned to comply with REAL ID over time.

DHS, in turn, will provide the technology and data sharing specifications to facilitate the use and verification of the enhanced driver’s license at a port of entry.

In addition, Arizona has pledged to become compliant with REAL ID as soon as practicable. DHS will soon issue the REAL ID final rule, which is intended to strengthen identification through both physical security features and a secure issuance process. Arizona’s REAL ID-compliant license would be available to U.S. citizen residents who do not wish to obtain an enhanced driver’s license.

The 9/11 Commission endorsed secure documentation for determining admissibility into the country, and Congress mandated WHTI implementation in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. At present, U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel consider more than 8,000 distinct state-issued birth certificates, driver’s licenses or other forms of identification when making decisions on who and what to admit into the country.

REAL ID establishes minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. The requirements include security features that must be incorporated into each card; verification of information provided by applicants to establish their identity and lawful status in the United States; and physical security standards for locations where licenses and identification cards are issued. A REAL ID driver’s license will be required in order to access a federal facility, board federally-regulated commercial aircraft, and enter nuclear power plants.

DHS and the Department of State expect the date of full WHTI implementation to be in the summer of 2008, at which time U.S. citizens traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea will be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other acceptable document. The precise implementation date will be formally announced with at least 60 days notice.


This page was last modified on December 6, 2007