Several members of the U.S. Congress requested the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to honor the original intent of the REAL ID Act Modification. Media reports have recently surfaced that FAS (Freely Associated States) citizens living in certain U.S. jurisdictions have experienced challenges in getting REAL ID-compliant licenses and state IDs.
Guam Delegate Michael San Nicolas is one of the signatories of the letter addressed to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. CNMI Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan; American Samoa representative Aumua Amata; Alaska Representative Don Young; Hawaii Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case, and; Utah Representative Rob Bishop also signed the letter.
The representatives are urging DHS to honor the commitments in the Compacts of Free Association and to partner with the U.S. Congress, to find a long term solution to the concerns raised by FAS citizens on the REAL ID law.
They are also requesting the federal agency to expedite applications for Employment Authorization Documents or EADs.
They are also calling for the removal of the requirement for citizens from the FSM, the Marshall Islands, and Palau to have a visa and/or EADs when applying for a REAL ID card.
In the letter, the signatories said, “It makes no sense for these citizens seeking a REAL ID card to be required to provide a visa or an EAD when the Compacts approved by law do not require them to have either.”
President Donald Trump signed the REAL ID Act Modification for FAS, on Dec. 17, 2018. The legislation amended the REAL ID Act first signed in 2005 and incorporated a provision allowing states to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards to FAS citizens.
The Embassy of the Republic of Palau to the U.S. issued a statement in May for its citizens residing in the U.S., especially in Hawaii and Guam, who have been affected by the regulations, assuring that they are working with the embassies of the FSM and the Marshall Islands to resolve the issue.
The FAS ambassadors also sent a joint letter to DHS raising concern over the requirement of having a “valid unexpired visa” in order for FAS citizens to obtain REAL ID-compliant licenses or IDs.