The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved Alaska Congressman Don Young’s bill H.R. 3398, the REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act last night.
“When Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, it made no reference to the Freely Associated States (FAS) as among those classes having lawful status,” said Congressman Young. “As it is currently written, the law prevents FAS citizens from obtaining anything more than a temporary ID or driver’s license, resulting in their inability to maintain stable employment and engage in other lawful activities where they legally reside. While FAS citizens lawfully reside and work in the United States pursuant to the Compact of Free Association, the way the law is written creates a new host of barriers for these citizens. My bill solves this issue and I thank my colleagues for supporting this legislation.”
“On behalf of the many Marshallese who are proud to call these United States and its territories their home, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Congressman Don Young for his leadership in the House for passing the REAL ID Modification for Freely Association States Act," said His Excellency Gerald M. Zackios, Ambassador of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States of America. "Today is a momentous day, and it would not have been possible without Congressman Young’s sponsorship, dedication and effectiveness in Congress.”
H.R. 3398 passed out of the House and will now head to the Senate for further consideration. This is Congressman Young’s ninth bill to pass out of the House during the 115th Congress.
When Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, no reference was made to the Freely Associated States, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau (FAS) as among those classes having “lawful status” for the purpose of the Act. Instead, reference was made in the definition of “State” to the “Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands” (TTPI), an entity that has not existed since 1994. While that reference served no operative purpose, it did show Congressional intent to include FAS citizens under the Act. This legislation aims to solve that issue. The REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act would amend Real ID Act of 2005 to permit Freely Associated States (FAS) to meet identification requirements under such Act.