Mass. residents could soon have to show passports at federal buildings

(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The deadline is approaching to pass a bill that’ll bring Massachusetts into compliance with the federal “Real ID Act.”

If the “ID ACT” takes effect by 2020, it’ll change the state requirement for driver’s licenses.

Residents would have to show proof of citizenship or legal status in order to get one of the new licenses, and some immigration advocates worry that this could cause problems for people who are here on a green card or work visa.

Ben Markens of Ashfield told 22News he’s not sure he agrees with the regulations. “I think we were all immigrants at one point or another, and I don’t think we should discriminate against people who are here. I think driving and citizenship are not necessarily the same,” he said.

The federal law is being integrated in every state.

Governor Charlie Baker told 22News it’s part of post 9/11 efforts to improve national security and prevent terrorist attacks. “The reason for that was the number of driver’s licenses were helping people who committed a lot of the crimes in the heinous violence on 9/11,” he said.

The federal government gave the state a one-year extension to comply with the real ID Act last year.

Governor Baker said to get another extension, the state needs to pass the governor’s bill. “The goal at this point is for everybody to either have a real ID that’s federally approved by 2020, or to simply have a driver’s license that’s not federally approved because they either don’t drive or don’t go to federal buildings,” he said.

If the bill isn’t passed by the end of this legislative session, your driver license will no longer get you into federal buildings or domestic airports. Instead, Massachusetts residents would have to display their passports.

Governor Baker said he’s confident the legislature will be able to pass the legislation by the October deadline.

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