Fed’s Denial of REAL ID Exemption May Make Life Difficult For New Mexicans


Fed’s Denial of REAL ID Exemption May Make Life Difficult For New Mexicans

Staff Report

In 2005, Congress passed a law seeking to create a national identification (ID) system by weaving together the states’ driver-licensing systems. The law originally intended for all states to be compliant within three years but several states objected to the law or failed to comply for other reasons. More states have slowly come into compliance and recent reports indicate 41 states are now in compliance with the Real ID law. New Mexico remains out of compliance for various reasons including a state law allows immigrants suspected of being in the country illegal to obtain driver’s licenses. 

Last week the federal government denied New Mexico an extension from tougher federal requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards. The decision means New Mexico driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted at federal facilities such as military bases starting Jan. 10.  The impact at the National Laboratories is not yet known.

If New Mexico does not come into compliance with Real ID within an unspecified period, eventually, New Mexico residents may not be able to use state IDs to board commercial flights. 

State Senator John Arthur Smith (D), one of the leaders of the legislature and a sponsor of legislation that would make New Mexico Real ID complaint issued a statement about the denial of New Mexico’s Exemption for the REAL ID Act saying “Senator Ingle and I successfully passed, with a strong bipartisan majority (35-5), a bill that complied with the federal requirements of the REAL ID Act during the 2015 legislative session. The House had ample time to hear the legislation but did not give it a hearing. This bill had a two tier license system similar to the one that was successfully instituted in Utah. Senator Ingle and I worked collectively because we wanted to put this issue behind us and focus on moving our state forward. We urge the Governor to put this issue on the Call for next session and help pass this bipartisan fix.”