Tennessee Residents Have a Reprieve - Don't Have to Get a REAL ID Until May 7, 2025, to Board a Plane Without a Passport

Mark Hake

The Tennessee REAL ID website now says that its residents have until May 7, 2025, to get a REAL ID driver's license in order to board a plane. Without it, at the deadline, you will have to carry a passport.

But the 24-month extension from the earlier deadline of May 3, 2023, was issued by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). The reasons seem a little suspicious, as discussed below.

Getting a REAL ID Driver's License in Tennessee

Here is what the Tennessee REAL ID driver's license looks like:

Tennessee REAL ID Driver's license.Photo byTN.gov

It shows that there is a gold circle with a white star in the middle of it located in the upper right-hand corner of the license. This signifies that the holder has gone through the documentation process at the TN DMV. They have had to present documents showing proof of their identity, proof of a Social Security card, and 2 proofs of residency in the state of Tennessee.

That means that no one without a real legal presence in the U.S. and the state of Tennessee can get on a plane starting on the REAL deadline.

But that deadline used to be on May 3, 2023, as I wrote about on Nov. 21. This was going to be a major filter preventing undocumented and fake ID travelers from being able to fly. It would have kept America safer.

So why did the Biden Administration postpone the deadline for over 2 years and 4 months?

Why the Extension to the REAL ID Deadline?

Starting on May 7, 2025, the U.S. government will enforce the REAL ID Act. You will need a REAL ID, U.S. passport, or another federally approved identification to board airline flights in the U.S. (without a passport or military ID) or enter secure federal buildings, including military or nuclear facilities.​

DHS said on Dec. 5, 2022, the deadline was extended to May 7, 2025.

" Under the new regulations published to execute this change, states will now have additional time to ensure their residents have driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the security standards established by the REAL ID Act."
“This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.

The COVID-19 pandemic was supposedly having a "lingering" effect and produced a lack of ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card.

Who really believes this? There's been plenty of time to get over COVID-19. The old May 3, 2023, REAL ID deadline left plenty of time to allow people without a REAL ID driver's license to get one.

This is likely due to some other policy reasons rather than the pandemic. Biden has some other goal.

What Is Really Going On Here?

Biden seems to have a loose immigration policy. He may not want to bar undocumented people from entering the U.S. He doesn't care about hordes of new migrants in the U.S. who may have minimal or no rights to be here, from flying on planes and going throughout the U.S.

In fact, that is probably exactly what they want. They apparently want many undocumented people to enter the U.S. under the asylum regulations and then fly and travel freely throughout the U.S.

This means they may want people to move around the U.S. on commercial planes. If the prior REAL ID has stayed in place, this would have restricted migrants from moving around the US or entering federal buildings. For example, to get a REAL ID requires a Social Security card, which none of the migrants presently have.

Now anyone with a regular I.D. or driver's license can still get through TSA security. These are easy to fake.

However, to get a REAL ID you have to prove U.S. citizenship, a green card, a visa, and/or proof of permanent resident status, along with a Social Security card. If the May 3, 2023, deadline had gone into effect many of these new migrants would not have been able to enter federal buildings, much less fly.

This means residents in Tennessee or anywhere in the U.S. without these documents can still fly, and enter secure Federal buildings and military bases, up until May 7, 2025.

In the end, this makes Tennessee and the rest of the U.S. less safe. Anyone with a regular ID or driver's license will still be able to board a plane in the U.S. without a problem.

This is a boon to those who are undocumented or not well-documented. Apparently, that is the new Biden policy.

Extending the REAL ID Act of 2005 implementation to May 7, 2025, means it will be over 20 years before the Biden Administration allows this law, enacted in 2005, to go into effect in the U.S. This is despite the fact that all U.S. states are ready for it.


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Mark R. Hake, CFA, writes articles on national and local news, stocks, and market events at InvestorPlace.com, Barchart.com, Medium.com, and Newsbreak.com as well as TalkMarkets.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ

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