“Basically it allows you travel by land or sea into the United States from Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Bermuda.”
— Citizenship’s System Administrator Jason Walls
Enhanced card serves as identification for flights
OKMULGEE, Okla. — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Citizenship Office is working on implementing an Enhanced tribal card for the Nation.
Citizenship Director Nate Wilson and Citizenship System Administrator Jason Walls are working together to complete the process.
Their desire to implement the enhanced tribal card stems from the REAL ID Act and the amount of fraudulent activity with tribal cards.
In 2005 the U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act. The act establishes minimum-security standards for state-issued drivers licenses and other forms of identification cards.
The REAL ID Act has four phases. The first three phases apply to relatively few U.S. citizens, and deal with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters, nuclear power plants and restricted and semi-restricted federal facilities.
Phase 4 deals with boarding federally-regulated commercial aircrafts.
DHS issued a revised schedule for Phase 4. Starting Jan. 22, 2018 passengers with a state issued drivers license that is not compliant with the REAL ID Act will need to show an alternate form of identification for domestic flights. Starting Oct. 1, 2020 every air traveler needs a REAL ID-compliant license for domestic air travel.
As of June 2016, 24 states and territories are compliant, 28 have extensions and four states are non-compliant.
Currently, Oklahoma is under an extension for the REAL ID Act through this October, at which time they will find out whether or not they will qualify for another extension. If approved, the extension would last until 2020.
Walls said that the new tribal cards would be federally recognized.
“So for the tribe, it kind of strengthens our relationship with everybody else because we are issuing an ID card that is REAL ID compliant,” Walls said.
Muscogee (Creek) citizens can use the enhanced tribal card to travel.
“Basically it allows you travel by land or sea into the United States from Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Bermuda,” Walls said.
Walls said that one of the first steps was to create a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
He said that the memorandum outlined the type of information that has to be on the card, where they store data, issue the cards, policy and procedures and outlines the role U.S. Customs and Border Protections serve.
“The next step in that process was what they call an ISA agreement and it’s an inter-service connectivity agreement which basically is the map of how we communicate with Customs and Border Protection,” Walls said.
Citizenship is waiting for approval on their ISA.
Seven of their employees had to go through information technology training.
“Anybody that has anything to do with this card has to be approved and training,” Wilson said.
Once their ISA gets approved they have to go through a service level agreement.
Walls said as soon as those steps are complete they will test the cards and then U.S. Customs and Border Protection will assess the facility and make sure that it is secure.
Wilson said that if the facility is deemed secure they will be able to issue the enhanced cards.
“We’re hoping within the next year that we should be implementing this new card,” he said.
Wilson said that there will be a fee for the enhanced card.
“We’re looking at $25 to $30 a card because it does act as a passport . . . we are going to try to make it as minimal as possible,” Wilson said.
However, the new card will not be mandatory.
The new card will also prevent non-citizens from obtaining citizenship.
“There was a lot of fraudulent cards out there. So we tried to work to try to make that a lot better . . . we came across the enhanced tribal ID card and decided to look into it . . . ” Wilson said.
Walls said they have had in-depth training for fraudulent documents.
“It’s more secure . . . the process of getting that card you have to actually have a face to face interview,” Walls said.
Wilson said that the MCN will be the first tribe in Oklahoma to get the enhanced card.