TSA says driver cards acceptable for flying in US

Article author: 
Hannah Hoffman
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

The driver cards at issue in Ballot Measure 88 will likely be accepted by the federal Transportation Security Administration to fly on a plane, according to reporting by the Oregonian and Lars Larson earlier today.

The cards would allow illegal immigrants or other Oregon residents who can't prove citizenship to legally drive a car and hold insurance in their names. A bill allowing it passed in 2013 but was referred to the November ballot. The bill specifically said the cards were to be used for driving privileges only, and it has been widely reported they cannot be used for other purposes.

In fact, the ballot title says they cannot be used to fly.

"The driver card may not be used as identification for air travel, to enter a federal building, to register to vote or to obtain any government benefit requiring proof of citizenship or lawful presence in United States."

It turns out, that may not be true.

The Oregonian's Politifact reporter, Dana Tims, checked with a TSA official, who said the cards would probably be considered valid in an airport.

Nico Melendez, a Western Region TSA spokesman in California, after checking with Oregon officials and administration attorneys, said in a telephone interview: "State-issued driver cards would be acceptable forms of identification for our document-checkers at the airport. At this point, the understanding is that a card like this would be an acceptable form of identification."

Whether an air passenger shows a TSA representative a driver's license or driver card doesn't matter, he said.

"What we are doing is verifying that the person who shows the card is the person who is traveling," Melendez said. "It's not an immigration check."

The TSA website gives a list of acceptable identification, and it does not specifically list drivers cards. However, proof of citizenship is not required for TSA-accepted ID.

For example, it lists a "permanent resident card" as acceptable, and a permanent resident is not necessarily a citizen. The driver cards at issue in Measure 88 would require proof of residence for at least one year as well.

The Oregon DMV provides a list of frequently asked questions, and it defers to the TSA on whether a drivers card would get an Oregonian onto a plane.