Udall, Heinrich, Luján and Lujan Grisham Secure Pledge from DHS that NM Can get Delay of REAL ID Enforcement if Governor and Legislature Agree on REAL ID Fix

Also at Congressional lawmakers' urging: DHS will act immediately to work with DoD and provide clear guidance on how REAL ID will apply to military installations

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has informed them that the state of New Mexico can still get an extension of the deadline for REAL ID enforcement if Gov. Susana Martinez and the leadership of the N.M. House and Senate can 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. 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 Martinez 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 continued 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.

Also during their conversation with DHS officials, Udall, Heinrich, Luján and Lujan Grisham urged DHS to clear up confusion about what form of identification will be required after Jan. 10 to enter a military base in the state of New Mexico. Numerous constituents have contacted the congressional offices reporting that the state's military bases are planning on following conflicting procedures. Mayorkas agreed to contact the Department of Defense (DoD) immediately to ensure that DoD provides the proper guidance to the state’s military installations about what form of identification will be needed for entry once REAL ID goes into effect. 

Finally, the congressional lawmakers asked Mayorkas for clarification about whether New Mexico residents will be able to board commercial flights with a New Mexico driver's license after Jan. 10. DHS clearly stated that residents traveling by air from any state, including New Mexico, will still be allowed to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration. The agency also pledged to provide clear guidance about when REAL ID enforcement will be implemented for boarding commercial aircraft, with a minimum of 120 days notice before enforcement begins.

The lawmakers' letter to Martinez is available HERE and below:  

The Honorable Susana Martinez

Governor of New Mexico

490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Room 400

Santa Fe, NM 87501

Dear Governor Martinez:

With the upcoming deadline for enforcement of the REAL ID Act of 2005, we wanted to inform you that we recently spoke with Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discuss the standards and procedures that will be used as of January 10, 2016 for entering federal buildings and facilities in New Mexico.  

Because our state is the home to many secure federal facilities, we requested that DHS immediately contact the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure that DoD provides the proper guidance to our state’s military installations. DHS has clearly stated that residents traveling by air from any state, including New Mexico, “are still able to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration.” However, to address misinformation, we requested that DHS provide further clarification about the timeline for REAL ID enforcement for boarding commercial aircraft.

Deputy Secretary Mayorkas assured us that he will direct his office to work with DoD to ensure the state’s military installations receive immediate guidance regarding entry and alternate procedures to be made available by each facility. Additionally, the Deputy Secretary informed us that DHS will provide an update for enforcement for boarding aircraft with adequate time for compliance with federal agency procedures.

During our discussion, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas also informed us that it is still possible for the State of New Mexico to request, and receive, an extension of the deadline for REAL ID enforcement. 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. Other states, such as New Hampshire, have requested and been granted extensions based on anticipated actions in upcoming legislative sessions.

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.

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.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Tom Udall

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján

U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham