New Mexico gets Real ID extension - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico gets Real ID extension

SANTA FE – New Mexico has gotten another extension to comply with the federal Real ID Act, meaning current driver’s licenses should be good again as identification at secure federal facilities.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has OK’d the extension through Oct. 10 of this year.

That followed the Legislature’s recent passage of a bill to bring the state into compliance with the stricter identification requirements of Real ID.

The bill is awaiting action by Martinez, who has told federal officials she will sign it. The deadline for signing or vetoing bills passed during the 30-day session that ended last week is March 9.

In the meantime, the governor asked Homeland Security officials last week to approve an extension.

The officials said in a letter to Martinez that DHS “recognizes your efforts in enhancing the security of New Mexico driver’s licenses and identification cards.”

“For the duration of this extension, Federal agencies may accept New Mexico-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards for official purposes in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and existing agency policies,” the letter said.

But it wasn’t immediately clear what changes would be made because of Friday’s extension.

Sandia National Laboratories learned of the extension letter Friday and was working with its oversight agency, the Department of Energy, to decide when it would again recognize New Mexico driver’s licenses, said laboratories spokeswoman Heather Clark.

The federal government began clamping down in January on the use of New Mexico licenses for entering certain secure federal facilities that require ID.

That’s because the state’s previous extension expired in October, a request for another one was denied, and federal officials provided a three-month grace period before enforcement.

The impact of the enforcement has varied from facility to facility, with some military bases not accepting driver’s licenses as ID.

The next step is for state officials to submit a plan to DHS for implementing the new driver’s license system outlined in House Bill 99.

“We’re reviewing the bill, and what we need to do to come into compliance, and formulating the plan,” said Ben Cloutier, a spokesman for the Taxation and Revenue Department, which oversees the Motor Vehicle Division.

The state could ask for another extension in October; it would have to show it was making progress toward compliance with Real ID.

Under the legislation, New Mexico would issue Real ID-compliant licenses to any citizens or others with legal presence who wanted them and could provide the required documentation. Driving authorization cards – which could not be used for official federal purposes – would be issued to undocumented immigrants and any citizens who wanted them.

Under the legislation, the Taxation and Revenue Department would begin issuing Real ID-compliant licenses no later than about mid-November.

But the plan is that New Mexicans who want to be Real ID-compliant would keep their current licenses until they expired – or until 2020, whichever came first – and then get new licenses.

Martinez has wanted since she took office in 2011 to do away with the 2003 state law that allows undocumented immigrants to get licenses, and she hailed House Bill 99 for doing that. At the same time, immigrants’ rights advocates said the legislation was a victory for undocumented residents because they can continue to drive legally.

Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation, who had urged DHS last week to grant the extension, said they were pleased with the news.

“Real ID has caused unnecessary confusion and uncertainty for many New Mexicans, and this extension from the Department of Homeland Security means we can finally move out of limbo,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » New Mexico gets Real ID extension

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Study: Los Alamos County is healthiest in New Mexico
ABQnews Seeker
The University of Wisconsin Population Health ... The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute's annual County Health Rankings, which are supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examine health outcomes and ...
Francisco Pallares is new director of business development at ...
ABQnews Seeker
BRIEFCASE: Spaceport America is the first purpose-built ... BRIEFCASE: Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world.
Application for camp site for Albuquerque homeless withdrawn; supporters ...
ABQnews Seeker
The organization that sought to house ... The organization that sought to house homeless victims of sex trafficking in tents near the Big I has withdrawn its safe outdoor space application.
Editorial: Holtec should join push for rail safety
From the Editorial Board: Holtec International ... From the Editorial Board: Holtec International would be wise to join efforts to improve railroad safety.
Editorial: ABQ curfew worth another shot given violent youth ...
From the Editorial Board: A youth ... From the Editorial Board: A youth curfew is an idea worth again pursuing in light of recent violence by and against children in Albuquerque.
UNM spring sports: Softball routs New Mexico State, track ...
New Mexico scored five fifth-inning runs ... New Mexico scored five fifth-inning runs and romped to an 8-2 softball win over New Mexico State on Tuesday at Lobo Softball Field. Right ...
Lobo baseball earns wild win over nationally ranked Texas ...
Who says lightning doesn't strike in ... Who says lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice? Jake Holland blasted a walk-off solo home run off light pole beyond the left-field ...
Jackson-Wink MMA to promote -- and host -- April ...
  For some 20 years, fight ...   For some 20 years, fight cards promoted by Albuquerque's Jackson-Wink MMA have served as a springboard to greater things. Among those who performed ...
Albuquerque's Gentry earns second contract with NFL's Steelers
Featured Sports
Albuquerque native Zach Gentry is set ... Albuquerque native Zach Gentry is set to return to his second home. As first reported by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero on Sunday, Gentry, 26, ...