A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NJ called off stricter requirements for Driver’s License


The New Jersey MVC had planned to implement stricter requirements for New Jersey residents who want to apply for a driver’s license.  The new plan, called TRU-ID, was to implement the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, which was passed by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to impose stricter standards on issuance of driver’s licenses and other ID documents.  About 25 states have decided not to implement the REAL ID standards.

New Jersey has already been using a strict “6-point” system since 2003, requiring a primary ID, a secondary ID, verifiable Social Security number, and a proof of address. The plan to implement READ ID standards has been the subject of much controversy.   The new standards would impose even stricter documentary requirements, including proof of Social Security number, legal identity, legal presence in the United States, and applicant’s principal residence. Only originals or certified copies in English would be accepted.  Also, the state would retain photocopies of all documents in its database.

The plan was called off by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission on Oct. 4 as a part of  settlement in a lawsuit before a Mercer County Superior Court judge filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  In May, the same judge entered a temporary injunction against TRU-ID's implementation right before the plan was scheduled to go live. 

The ACLU argued that the collection of personal documents like birth certificates was both an invasion of privacy and a violation of other constitutional rights. Further, the new rule was also not published in the New Jersey Register as required by law and, hence, depriving the public of an opportunity to review and comment. Under the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act (APA), before the state may implement a new rule or regulation that affects the rights of its citizens, it must first be published to allow the public an opportunity to provide comments and feedback.

According to the MVC, it has decided to follow the APA procedure and publish the new TRU-ID rule before implementation.  But their plan is still to implement the stricter driver’s license requirements some time in the future. 

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