ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and state lawmakers have not sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeking an extension on REAL ID requirements.
Nearly two weeks after federal officials said New Mexico could get an extension if Martinez and lawmakers sent a letter, no agreement has been drafted amid a looming Jan. 10 deadline.
Federal officials want Martinez and lawmakers to say they will pass a REAL ID compliant law during the next session, which begins Jan. 19.
If New Mexico doesn’t pass a REAL ID compliant law, holders of state driver’s licenses and IDs could find that they are unable to use them for federal purposes, such as boarding an airplane.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez spokesman Isaac Padilla says Sanchez has reached out to GOP House Speaker Don Tripp about a joint letter, but no decision has been made.
Meanwhile, Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said the governor welcomes serious collaboration with Democrats but did not say if Martinez would send a letter. “The governor is currently working with Rep. Paul Pacheco on a two-tier compromise that stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and ensures we have a secure ID,” Lonergan said.
State lawmakers are expected in January to begin revising a state law that now allows immigrants — regardless of status — to obtain driver’s licenses.
The move is expected after the Department of Homeland Security in October declined to give New Mexico an extension on complying with tougher rules that require proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses and IDs to be valid for some federal purposes.
Military bases in New Mexico said state driver’s licenses will still be accepted after Jan. 10. Homeland Security officials said the state will be given a 120-day notice before new air travel rules will be enforced.
In a letter to Martinez earlier this month, the state’s Democratic congressional delegation said New Mexico could likely get a temporary reprieve from federal REAL ID enforcement if the governor and lawmakers can agree on a specific proposal to revise state law.
Members of the delegation said they recently met with Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas who assured them the department would delay enforcement if New Mexico took steps before Jan. 10.
Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, who is sponsoring one of the proposals to revise the law, said he is willing to compromise on legislation that would put New Mexico in compliance.
“The proposal would provide illegal immigrants with a driving privilege card, rather than a state driver’s license,” Pacheco said. “I hope that Sen. Michael Sanchez and Senate Democrats will meet us in the middle and agree on the proposal.”
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This article was written by Russell Contreras from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.