NM Dem delegation: State can get REAL ID extension
By Russell Contreras, The Associated Press December 24, 2015
ALBUQUERQUE – 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, the state’s Democratic congressional delegation said Wednesday.
U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham in saying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has assured them that New Mexico would get the extension after the governor’s office informs federal authorities about a plan.
In a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez sent last week, 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.
Udall spokeswoman Jennifer Talhelm said Martinez and state lawmakers have to tell Homeland Security officials they’ve agreed on a specific proposal and promise to pass it.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security declined to give New Mexico an extension on complying with tougher federal requirements that require proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses and IDs to be valid for some federal purposes, including boarding commercial aircraft.
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.
House Republicans and Martinez have previously tried to repeal a state immigrant driver’s license law.
Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for Martinez, said the governor has worked year after year to get the state in compliance with federal rules.