Bill to Provide ID for COFA Migrants Passes House

September 27, 2018, 11:15 AM HST (Updated September 27, 2018, 11:15 AM)
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Sample drivers license. PC: DMV

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s bipartisan legislation to extend identification services to citizens of the Freely Associated States who reside in Hawai‘i and across the United States, unanimously passed the House on Wednesday, Sept. 26. 2018. The REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act (H.R. 3398) would amend the REAL ID Act of 2005 and enable citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau to obtain a driver’s license or personal identification card, which is essential for stable employment and other lawful activities.

Under current law, a citizen of those countries is eligible for a temporary driver’s license or personal identification card, creating an unnecessary difficulty in obtaining employment, accessing healthcare and more.

“This legislation rights a wrong to ensure that tens of thousands of COFA migrants living in the United States, including more than 17,000 in Hawaiʻi, are able to access the services they need, empowering themselves and their families,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Our bipartisan legislation makes a necessary technical fix to existing law and provides access to basic ID cards, which will make it easier to apply for healthcare services, buy or rent a home, get a quality education and more, relieving the difficulty of uncertainty for COFA migrants who call Hawai‘i home.”

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