Washington IDs Not Valid For Travel in 2016

With 2016 quickly approaching, Washington residents should prepare for the changes that the New Year has in store. As mandated by the federal government, all airports and some federal agencies within Washington State will require residents to show either an enhanced driver’s license or a passport in order to gain access into federal institutions this New Year.

“I was so furious,” said junior Takumu Tamazaura, recounting his initial reaction upon hearing the news on this new requirement. “ I am not a citizen and I have a regular ID, that is not enhanced, so I can’t use it to travel by air, and I really don’t want to carry my passport everywhere.”

Tamazaura has completed and submitted all the required documents needed in order to stay in the U.S., and he doesn’t understand why he does not qualify for receiving another form of ID other than his passport.

“I’m a legally documented immigrant and I’m essentially clear government wise,” Tamazaura said, “I don’t understand why I can’t have one of the enhanced driver’s licenses since the government knows I’m here, and I am registered under a VISA.”

As Tamazaura stressed, it isn’t just the inconvenience Washington residents face, but the insecurity some may feel from carrying around important documents, such as a passport. Many like Tamazaura feel that after all the difficulties gone through to immigrate, they deserve some simple form of proof that they live in the United States legally. On top of this, there are many issues that arise with requiring additional information, including the risk of having important paperwork stolen or misplaced.

This change reflects a long struggle between the state and the federal government. Washington State, along with New Mexico, doesn’t require proof of residence in order to obtain a driver’s license or state ID. This policy directly violates the federal REAL ID act of 2005, which requires proof of citizenship for a license to be valid at the federal level. The state has been given extensions on these requirements for 10 years, but in a letter sent the last week of October the federal government rejected another extension.

Freshman Christopher O’Dore doesn’t understand why residents have to prove their residency, whether documented or undocumented.

“This is unfair,” O’Dore said.

As a current resident of Washington, he feels this is an issue that touches all residents of the state. O’Dore also expressed concern that some students may not be in the best financial situation or have flexibility in their schedules to obtain all the necessary documents and proper identification.

To save money, the option of upgrading current Washington ID to enhanced level has been offered at a cheaper price. This may help students save money and time from having to buy an entirely new ID. As for those who are not documented or are in no position to obtain an ID, no further information has been given, and the deadline for when these federal requirements have to be met has not yet been specified.

The process of obtaining a new ID is difficult, even for Washington residents who already have a driver’s license. On top of a $72 cost for an enhanced license, residents will need to pay $3 for every year left before their standard license renewal date. This, or a passport, will be required for flights or entering federal property.

The Washington IDs is relevant to all Seattle U students who are and aren’t residents of Washington. Yet most importantly, this new development further isolated undocumented communities in Washington State.

Many schools in Washington, including Seattle U, have significant populations of undocumented students. This Thursday, Oct. 12 at 10:00, Campus Ministry is hosting an event for National Educators Coming Out Day, a nationwide movement to support those students who live, work, and learn in the U.S. without documentation. Though the event supports these populations, the changes to IDs reflects the difficulties they face.

“This is new to me,” said junior Lynn Doan, “Since it wasn’t an issue that concerns me, I didn’t look into it, and that is part of the problem. This is happening to such a huge number of people.”

Doan emphasized that if students make themselves aware and conscious of what is happening, then as a community, we can work and help each other.

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