[JURIST] The Arizona State Legislature [official website] passed legislation [HB 2677, PDF] Wednesday barring the state from implementing the REAL ID Act of 2005 [PDF text; JURIST news archive]. The Arizona House voted 51-1 for the bill Wednesday; the Arizona Senate had approved the bill 21-7 on May 6. The bill prohibits the state from participating in or implementing the REAL ID Act, and requires the Arizona Department of Transportation [official website] to report to the legislature any attempts by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] to secure the enforcement of the Act. The Arizona legislation comes after similar laws barring compliance with the federal statute were passed [ACLU backgrounder] in a number of states, including Alaska, Washington, Georgia, Minnesota and Idaho. The Arizona Daily Star has more.
Initially drafted after the Sept.11, 2001 attacks and designed to discourage illegal immigration, the REAL ID Act attempts to make it more difficult for terrorists to fraudulently obtain US driver's licenses and other government IDs by mandating that states require birth certificates or similar documentation and also consult national immigration databases before issuing IDs. After controversy and strenuous opposition from civil libertarians [FindLaw commentary], it finally passed in 2005 [JURIST report] as part of an emergency supplemental appropriations defense spending bill. State lawmakers have previously expressed concern [JURIST report] about possible problems expected to accompany the implementation of the REAL ID Act, fearing that they would not be able to comply with the law's requirements before the May 2008 deadline. In March 2007, Homeland Security responded to these concerns by extending the deadline for compliance by 18 months; all states have since been granted compliance extensions [JURIST reports].