Renewing your Mass. license could soon be more complicated

Governor Baker is trying to stop illegal immigrants from getting a driver’s license

A past design for Massachusetts drivers' licenses.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Lawmakers are working to get the state into compliance with a federal program called “The Real ID Act.” Under this national program, you’ll have to prove your residency in order to get a “Real ID” compliant license.

“No one can rely on one identification as a bedrock for security,” said Tony Smith of Easthampton. “There’d have to be multiple systems in place and this is only one of them.”

Congress passed “Real ID” in 2005, following recommendations from the 9/11 commission. After state lawmakers raised concerns, Governor Charlie Baker plans to address the issue in an amendment to the state budget.

Gov. Baker asking for clarification on REAL ID licenses

The governor wants to make sure illegal immigrants do not have access to a Massachusetts driver’s license, except under certain circumstances. Massachusetts is 1 of 24 states adopting the “Real ID Act.”

Dr. Bruce McCarter of Great Barrington told 22News he’s worried about residents losing their basic rights. “I wonder if it could be used to make it harder for people to vote. Where they’ve enacted id laws that make it more difficult for people of low income or people of color to vote.” Massachusetts residents do not need identification to vote.

The Federal Government hopes “Real ID” will help increase national security; “And how much public safety this program will actually bring us,” said Smith. That is still a matter of debate.

Massachusetts has until October to comply with the federal program, which is expected go into effect by 2020. By that time, if you do not have a compliant “Real ID,” you would have to show a passport to get into a federal building or board a flight, even a domestic flight.

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