There’ve been a lot of scary reports lately about how, if your state governor doesn’t “volunteer” to collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security’s “REAL-ID” scheme for a distributed national identity card and linked databases of personal information about every American resident, the DHS won’t “allow” you to board any airline flight in the U.S. of A.
What’s the skinny?
It’s an empty threat, designed to intimidate citizens, state legislators, and governors. You’ll still have a legal right to travel, even by air, even if your state opts out of compliance with the REAL-ID Act.
The DHS does have plans to require everyone who wants to fly to carry government-issued papers and get permission for each flight from the DHS. The DHS is already trying to put some of those into effect this month for international travel, and has proposed to extend them to domestic flights as part of Secure Flight.
But those other rules are independent of the REAL-ID Act, and don’t yet affect domestic air travel. Nothing in the REAL-ID law or regulations would require you to show ID to fly.
Don’t be scared. Ignore the empty threats. Stand up for your rights, and fly freely — with or without papers or permission.