WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted New Mexico an immediate extension of REAL ID compliance deadlines to allow the state to implement a law passed last week by the legislature. In a letter sent last week, the lawmakers urged DHS to grant the extension to ensure New Mexicans can continue to access federal facilities and airports.
“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,” Udall said. “Families now have much-deserved certainty that the state’s belated compliance with the REAL ID law will not inhibit travel plans or their ability to visit federal facilities. Now it’s time to get back to work on policies that will grow New Mexico’s economy, create good jobs and improve child well-being.”
“I'm pleased DHS acted quickly to grant an extension for New Mexico to comply with REAL ID,” Heinrich said. “Our military bases and other federal facilities are important economic drivers in our state. Now, many New Mexicans will have the certainty they need to go to work everyday or travel without an undue burden.”
“I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has responded to our request for an extension of REAL ID compliance,” Luján said. “DHS is following through on the commitment we secured from the agency by providing this extension following action by the state legislature. This important step will give New Mexicans who do business with our labs and military bases the certainty and peace of mind that they will not face difficulties accessing airports and federal facilities.”
“I appreciate the Department of Homeland Security for supporting New Mexico’s legislators as they brokered a bipartisan compromise,” Lujan Grisham said. “We needed the flexibility because the Governor failed to support the initial legislative compromise. What’s important is we now have a workable solution that benefits all New Mexicans.”
In December, the state's Democratic congressional delegation held a joint meeting with DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. They asked him to clarify for New Mexico families and businesses whether they would be able to board a commercial airplane with a driver's license after the next phase of REAL ID went into effect on January 10, 2016. The lawmakers also secured a commitment from DHS that New Mexico could still get an extension of the deadline for REAL ID enforcement if Gov. Susana Martinez and the New Mexico State Legislature could agree on legislation that ensured REAL ID compliance.
On January 8, 2016, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson clarified that if the state legislature could not reach agreement on legislation that ensured REAL ID compliance, New Mexicans would continue to be able to fly on commercial airlines with New Mexico licenses until 2018. At the December meeting, the lawmakers also urged DHS to work with the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure that DoD provides the proper guidance to the state's military installations about what form of identification would be accepted for entry once REAL ID enforcement went into effect in the state.
On February 15, 2016, the legislature approved a bill that would ensure REAL ID compliance.