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N.M. Can Get REAL ID Delay

DHS has granted extensions to other states -- including New Hampshire -- based on anticipated actions in upcoming legislative sessions.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and New Mexico’s congressional representatives, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham, announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has informed them New Mexico can still get an extension of the deadline for REAL ID enforcement if Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislature’s leadership verify to DHS that they agree on legislation that ensures REAL ID compliance. 
 
Seeking answers on behalf of New Mexicans about the standards and procedures that DHS will follow to enforce REAL ID, the state’s Democratic congressional delegation recently held a joint meeting with DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, according to a joint stateme nt from Heinrich and Udall.
As of Jan. 10, 2016, New Mexico drivers’ licenses will no longer be considered valid forms of identification to enter federal facilities because the governor and the legislature have not agreed to pass a law bringing the state’s drivers’ licenses into compliance with the the REAL ID Act of 2005. But Mayorkas pledged to the congressional leaders that DHS would delay enforcement if New Mexico takes steps before Jan. 10 to prove that the governor and legislators are committed to complying with the law this year.
 
“It is still possible for the State of New Mexico to request, and receive, an extension of the deadline for REAL ID enforcement,” the congressional lawmakers wrote in a letter to the governor on Dec. 18, informing her of Mayorkas’ promise. “Mr. Mayorkas stated that DHS will grant the state an extension if the Department receives a letter stating that your administration and the leadership of the state House and Senate have an agreement on legislation that ensures REAL ID compliance; that the leadership will bring the bill up for a vote at the upcoming legislative session; and that you will sign the bill into law if it passes.” 
 
“Our offices remain in close contact with DHS and we stand ready to support a request for an extension that allows the legislature time to pass a bipartisan, pragmatic solution that ensures New Mexicans can continue to access federal facilities and airports in the months to come,” Udall, Heinrich, Luján and Lujan Grisham said in their letter. “The ongoing uncertainty about accessing federal facilities is an undue burden on the men and women who work at these facilities. We hope that your administration and the legislature will act expeditiously to resolve this issue.”
 
The congressional lawmakers added that DHS has granted extensions to other states — including New Hampshire — based on anticipated actions in upcoming legislative sessions.
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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.