Gov. Martinez signs state REAL ID bill
Posted March 9, 2016
By Uriel J. Garcia
The Santa Fe New Mexican
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill Tuesday to create a driver’s license that complies with the federal Real ID Act and still allows undocumented immigrants to drive legally with authorization cards. The compromise measure ends a five-year political battle between Republican Martinez and legislators, especially Democrats.
Martinez until this year insisted that legislators repeal a 2003 law that allowed people without proof of immigration status to receive a New Mexico driver’s license if they had proof of identity and of residency in the state. Martinez finally yielded this year, and state senators in turn gave her a couple of concessions on the bill.
Martinez claimed victory when she signed the bill at the Albuquerque International Sunport, saying the state had ended the “dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.” Her choice of an airport to sign the bill was symbolic. She had said New Mexico residents would eventually need passports to board domestic flights because of the law giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses.
In fact, the federal government allows states to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and still meet the requirements of the Real ID Act, a national identification system. New Mexico now is positioned to adhere to the federal law and to allow immigrants to drive.
A news release by Martinez said the bill she signed “requires fingerprints and background checks for illegal immigrants who wish to obtain a driver’s authorization card,” a statement that is partially untrue. The bill allows some 90,000 immigrants who already have a New Mexico driver’s license to receive driving authorization cards without being fingerprinted.
State senators rewrote the bill after it was approved by the House of Representatives to exempt those immigrants with New Mexico licenses from having to undergo fingerprinting and background checks. Then senators, in a compromise with Martinez, added a limited fingerprinting requirement. It only applies to undocumented immigrants who currently don’t have a New Mexico driver’s license.
Martinez did not mention that aspect of the bill. Instead she declared a political victory.
“This bipartisan compromise ends the dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, which had turned New Mexico into a magnet for fraud from all over the world. It’s a long overdue, common-sense way to make New Mexico safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law today,” she said.
Just before Martinez signed the bill, her administration sent out a news release saying the Motor Vehicle Division had caught four Mexican nationals who live in Texas trying to fraudulently obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses. The Motor Vehicle Division did not identify the four people it accused of fraud.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group, also claimed victory in the long fight over driver’s licenses. The group pointed out that Martinez for years had said she would accept nothing except a new law that would prohibit undocumented immigrants from driving. This bill keeps them on the road with the state’s authorization.
“The governor will continue to try to spin her loss, but the reality is that New Mexico rejected her dangerous plan to put tens of thousands of unlicensed drivers on New Mexico’s roads,” Somos Un Pueblo Unido said in a statement of its own.
The organization said that, had Martinez succeeded in repealing the licenses of immigrants, most would have continued to drive. Somos says immigrants are crucial to the state’s farm, dairy, oil and building industries.
During this year’s rancorous legislative session, members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives swiftly approved a license bill that Martinez wanted. It would have given driving privilege cards to undocumented immigrants who had been in New Mexico for at least two years, but all of them would have had to undergo fingerprinting and background checks. Democrats in the Senate said Martinez’s favored measure would have turned the Motor Vehicle Division into an arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Republican and Democratic senators recast the bill, eliminating most of the fingerprinting provision. Then senators approved it 41-1. After that, House members accepted the changes.
“All of the hard work we have put into this has finally paid off,” said Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, primary sponsor of the House version.
Democrats in the House said “a true compromise” was achieved, in part because of their efforts.
“This bill has had a long path, and we are glad to see that the common-sense changes that House Democrats fought for are going to be included in the final version,” said House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. “We’ve gone from a politically charged attempt to take away licenses from immigrants and force citizens to get a Real ID license to a solution that makes sense for New Mexicans.”
The law will create a Real ID-compliant license, which only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants can obtain. Those seeking the federally approved license will have to present a passport or birth certificate and a Social Security card at a Motor Vehicle Division field office.
But U.S. citizens will have the option of obtaining the driving authorization card that comes without having to present all those documents. The driving card also is what undocumented immigrants will receive. The card will enable them to drive lawfully, but could not be used for federal purposes such as boarding an airplane.
Sen. John Arthur Smith,D-Deming, who cosponsored the compromise bill, said people who qualify for a Real ID license may not want to turn over a birth certificate, a passport or other documents to the federal government. For them, the option of obtaining a driving authorization card solves that problem.The new law also has a component that many senior citizens will like. Smith added an amendment raising the age for in-person driver’s license renewal from 75 to 79. Smith, who is 74, had tried previously to increase the age for yearly license renewals through a separate bill, but it stalled in the Senate.
Martinez signs two-tier driver’s license bill into law
March 8, 2016
Heath Haussamen / NMPolitics.net
Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law on Tuesday compromise legislation that creates a two-tier licensure system for drivers and puts the state on a path toward becoming compliant with the federal REAL ID Act.New Mexico will continue giving immigrants living here without legal status a way to drive legally.
In signing the bill, Martinez continued using rhetoric that NMPolitics.net has already debunked. New Mexico will begin offering two types of driving cards — a REAL ID-compliant license for those who provide documentation that meets federal requirements, and a “driving authorization card” that will still let those who don’t prove citizenship or legal status drive legally.
The second-tier card could have been called a driver’s license. There’s no difference between calling it a license or an “authorization card” — which is what New Mexico will be calling them. But Martinez apparently wants to call it the latter so she can say she kept a campaign promise.
“For five long years, we’ve fought hard to do what the people of New Mexico have overwhelmingly demanded,” Martinez said in a news release. “This bipartisan compromise ends the dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, which had turned New Mexico into a magnet for fraud from all over the world.”
The reality: New Mexico will continue giving immigrants living here without legal status a way to drive legally. And though the law requires people who don’t prove citizenship or legal status to be fingerprinted to get a driving authorization card, it exempts the tens of thousands of immigrants who already have New Mexico driver’s licenses.
So the truth is that, in this bipartisan compromise, Martinez gave lots more ground than Democrats. Martinez fought for years to take legal driving privileges away from all immigrants living in the state without legal status. The bill she signed Tuesday ensures that such immigrants will continue to be allowed to drive legally.
Semantics aside, Martinez said the compromise was “a long overdue, commonsense way to make New Mexico safer.”
“I’m proud to sign it into law today,” she said.
Martinez’s signature was expected. The compromise legislation sailed through the session that ended last month with her support. And Martinez had already travelled to Washington, D.C. to successfully secure an extension of time for New Mexico to comply with the security standards required by the REAL ID Act.
That means New Mexico driver’s licenses are once again valid forms of identification to get onto military bases and into other federal installations. Next up, the state’s Motor Vehicle Division has to implement the requirements in the bill Martinez signed today.
Officials from across the political spectrum praised the compromise after Martinez signed the legislation.
“We’ve gone from a politically charged attempt to take away licenses from immigrants and force citizens to get a REAL ID to a solution that makes sense for New Mexicans,” said House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, praised the legislation for allowing Native Americans to use tribal documents to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license.
“This is a victory for all of New Mexico. We can now put this issue behind us and start focusing on our economy and creating jobs,” she said.
Two Republican House members also called it a victory.
“All of the hard work we have put into this has finally paid off,” said Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, who worked on this year’s compromise.
“I have worked on this issue for years. I’m proud of this compromise,” said Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch.
Both Pacheco and Nuñez repeated on Tuesday the same spin-filled line as Martinez about the compromise taking licenses away from immigrants without legal status — which, again, it doesn’t actually do.
One activist group, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, wasn’t ready to give Martinez any credit for the compromise.
“We are proud that both Republican and Democratic leaders in the state Senate stood up to Governor Martinez’s long campaign to divide New Mexicans on this issue,” the group said. “It is because of their willingness to put families and public safety before politics that thousands of New Mexicans will not be forced to obtain a federal ID and that undocumented immigrant drivers will continue to have access to a non-REAL ID license.”
“The governor will continue to try to spin her loss,” Somos said, “but the reality is that New Mexico rejected her dangerous plan to put tens of thousands of unlicensed drivers on New Mexico’s roads.”
Other groups that worked on the legislation sounded relieved to put the battle to rest.
“We are pleased that undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico will continue to be able to obtain licenses so that they may drive to work, school and health-care facilities and go about their daily lives,” said Suki Halevi, New Mexico regional director for the Anti-Defamation League.
“We are pleased our Legislature finally pushed the governor to accept a compromise that not only respects the choice of New Mexicans to obtain a federal ID but, most importantly, maintains the dignity and safety of our vibrant and hardworking immigrant community,” said Amber Royster, executive director for Equality New Mexico.
The American Civil Liberty Union’s director of public policy in New Mexico, Steven Robert Allen, pointed out that the organization opposes REAL ID “as a classic example of government overreach.” He praised the New Mexico law for letting New Mexicans choose to opt out and obtain a driving authorization card instead.
“Many New Mexicans are rightly concerned about REAL ID and other national ID schemes, and we are pleased that people in New Mexico have a choice of whether to participate or not,” Allen said.
Gov. signs Real ID measure into law
By Maggie Shepard And Deborah Baker / Journal Staff Writers
Published: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 at 1:59pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 at 9:57pm
Gov. Susana Martinez has signed into law a measure that puts New Mexico driver’s licenses in line with the stricter requirements of the federal Real ID Act and ends the fractious, five-year debate over whether undocumented immigrants should legally drive.
Martinez signed House Bill 99 on Tuesday at a news conference at the Albuquerque International Sunport.
“This has never been an immigration bill – it’s always been a public safety bill,” the governor said. “What we want to do is not be a magnet for crime.”
Martinez has insisted since she was first elected in 2010 that the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses led to fraudulent activity.
She tried to get legislators to undo the law, initially asking for licenses already held by undocumented immigrants to be revoked, and later asking that the issuance of those licenses be halted.
This year, she supported a bipartisan compromise under which undocumented immigrants – along with any citizens who want them – will be able to get driving authorization cards.
The plan also provides Real ID-compliant licenses for citizens and others with lawful presence who want them and can provide the required documentation, including certified copies of birth certificates and documents with Social Security numbers.
Martinez pointed to the arrest of four Mexican nationals for allegedly using false residency documents to try to get driver’s licenses as evidence of the need for “secure ID.”
She said the new law is about “stopping the bad guys” and “stopping the dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.”
Immigrants’ rights advocates – who support the new law – said it was Martinez’s initial proposals “to put tens of thousands of unlicensed drivers on New Mexico’s roads” that was dangerous.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido also said the driving authorization cards are effectively non-Real ID-compliant licenses, and noted that only first-time applicants – not current license-holders – would have to be fingerprinted to get them.
And the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said it was pleased that under the new law, New Mexicans can “opt out of Real ID while still retaining driving privileges.”
Now the state must submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that outlines how the new driver’s license system will be implemented.
In the meantime, because of the new law, the state has received an extension for compliance with Real ID. That means current state driver’s licenses are once again acceptable as ID at secure federal installations.
The federal government began clamping down in January on the use of New Mexico licenses as valid ID for getting into some military bases and facilities.
The Martinez administration’s plan is to issue the new Real ID licenses and the driving authorization cards once drivers’ current licenses expire.
Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla said her department has no firm date when the licenses will start to be issued but hopes it is in the “very near future.”
Today is the deadline for the governor to sign or veto bills passed in the 30-day session that ended Feb. 18.
On Tuesday, she also signed:
- Senate Bill 147: Making the Spaceport Authority eligible for a governmental liquor license. The Spaceport Authority wants to diversify its revenue sources by expanding the non-aerospace special events – conferences, concerts, and receptions, for example – held at the spaceport.
- Senate Bill 193 – Allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in controlled access areas on the grounds of ski areas. Currently, ski areas can have liquor licenses that allow alcohol to be served in lodges or other buildings.
- Senate Bill 163 – Allowing liquor sellers with package rights – selling by the bottle for off-premise consumption – to fill and sell reusable growlers of beer and hard cider.
- Senate Bill 189 – Authorizing the New Mexico Finance Authority to issue $5 million in cigarette tax revenue bonds for Department of Health facilities, including completing the Meadows, a long-term care facility in Las Vegas.
- Senate Bill 110 – Allowing the New Mexico Forestry Division to be reimbursed by the federal government for forest thinning and other conservation work.
- Senate Bill 128 – Making New Mexico a member of the Interstate Compact for the Prevention and Control of Forest Fires.
Session wraps up with smaller budget, party-line split on priorities
Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2016 11:00 pm | Updated: 11:00 pm, Thu Feb 18, 2016.
New Mexico lawmakers ended their 30-day session Thursday with high-profile compromises to boast about but still clashing over priorities in a state with a declining population and the nation’s highest unemployment rate.
Among the bills that legislators approved was a measure that will put New Mexico in compliance with federal Real ID requirements while still allowing undocumented immigrants to drive lawfully. Democrats and Republicans also came together with a ballot initiative to revamp the state’s bail bond system and agree on a $6.2 billion budget that reflects the state’s sagging revenues because of declining oil prices.
But some big-picture matters, like job-creation packages, went largely unaddressed, giving way instead to lengthy debates over anti-crime proposals and how to pay for them.
Read the full article here.
NM Legislature cuts budget, forges compromises
SANTA FE – The New Mexico Legislature wrapped up its work Thursday with major political compromises in place to revise driver’s licenses for immigrants, overhaul the state’s bail bond system and trim spending next year to offset plunging state revenue linked to oil income.
Lawmakers approved a $6.2 billion budget deal in the final stretch that shaves overall spending but shifts more money to Medicaid, state prisons, police, teachers and child protective services.
Those are nearly the same priorities favored by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, making major line-item vetoes unlikely. Lawmakers avoided tax increases by scouring agency accounts for $88 million in one-time funding.
Martinez praised cooperation among Republican allies and Democrats that control the state Senate on reaching a compromise that will allow New Mexico to bring driver’s licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID Act requirements.
“It’s been a hard, five-year fight but I’m proud that we came together, ensured that New Mexicans have a secure ID and that our citizens will not have to buy a passport,” Martinez said.
Under the plan, immigrants in the country illegally must submit fingerprints to the FBI before getting new driving authorization cards, though immigrants that already have licenses can skip the requirement.
Martinez said she would seek a waiver from the U.S. Homeland Security Department that allows access to federal facilities for state license holders while revisions are made. Sandia Labs, White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss have announced they would stop accepting New Mexico IDs.
New Mexico Legislature OKs Two-Tiered Driver’s License Plan
February 18, 2016
SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico appears to have resolved its driver’s license dilemma, with immigrants and Gov. Susana Martinez both claiming victory.
House Bill 99, passed by the Legislature and awaiting the governor’s signature, would resolve the state’s five-year-long battle over the federal REAL ID program, and allow currently licensed undocumented immigrants to keep driving.
Marcela Diaz, director of the immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, says lawmakers came up with two types of licenses.
“It’s a true, two-tiered license system, one REAL ID compliant license and a non-REAL ID license, otherwise known as a Driver Authorization Card,” she explains.
The bill requires a driver’s license applicant to be a U.S. citizen in order to meet federal REAL ID standards and use the license to board airplanes and enter federal installations.
But a second type of document, a Driver’s Authorization Card, will be available without requiring a birth certificate or other citizenship documents.
That card will permit driving, but won’t meet REAL ID standards.
Diaz says her group worked to defeat a provision of the bill backed by the governor that would have forced the state’s 90,000 currently licensed, undocumented immigrants to submit to fingerprinting.
“We fought for that because what we did not want was a discriminatory driver’s permit card just for undocumented immigrants that would single us out every time we showed that license,” she explains.
However, Martinez is claiming victory over a provision that stayed in the final bill that requires persons seeking a license for the first time, who are undocumented, to be fingerprinted. The governor has said publicly that she will sign the bill into law.
Mark Richardson/Scott Herron, Public News Service – NM
See article here.
Feb. 18 First News: Spending Plan In Place As Legislative Session Ends Thursday
The New Mexico Legislature is approaching the finish line of a 30-day session with major political compromises in place to revise driver’s licenses for immigrants, overhaul the state’s bail bond system and trim spending next year to offset plunging state revenues linked to oil revenues. The legislative session comes to a close by law at noon today. Governor Susana Martinez has embraced a plan that will bring New Mexico driver’s licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID requirements. Various criminal justice measures await her signature, while bail reforms are headed to the November ballot.
Listen to full report here.
Compromise Ends New Mexico’s Yearslong Battle on Immigrant Licenses
The deal between the governor and lawmakers makes the state’s driver’s licenses compliant with federal law and more secure but also lets unauthorized immigrants drive legally.
Los cambios a las licencias de conducción a raíz de la aprobación de Hb99
11:40 pm 02/16/2016
Albuquerque, (ENTRAVISION).- Tras la aprobación de la propuesta de ley HB99, se emitirán dos tipos de identificaciones con clasificaciones y beneficios diferentes.
Watch the video here
Officials: Residents have until 2020 to get Real ID licenses
UPDATED 8:45 PM MST Feb 16, 2016
Even after the governor signs the Real ID bill, current licenses can still be used to get into federal facilities and airports until 2020, the state’s Taxation and Revenue secretary said.
View video here.
New Mexico governor: Residents ones who urged license reform
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said she kept pushing for a revision to a state law that grants driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally because residents urged her to continue the fight.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the Republican who is the nation’s only Latina governor said she wasn’t bothered by criticisms that her desire to change the law was based on racism and an anti-immigrant agenda. Instead, residents who wanted to see the law revised motivated her to try repeatedly to change it, she said.
This weekend, the New Mexico Democratic-controlled Senate and GOP-led House passed a bill that would stop immigrants in the country illegally from obtaining new driver’s licenses. (U.S. citizens) would have the option of applying for a driver’s license that is compliant under the federal REAL ID Act or getting a non-compliant driver’s authorization card.
(New immigrant applicants) would be allowed to get driver’s authorization cards after submitting fingerprints for background checks. (Currently licensed immigrant drivers will never be fingerprinted). The bill now goes to Martinez desk, and she said she would sign it.
The REAL ID Act requires proof of legal U.S. residency for those who want to use state identification to access certain areas of federal facilities. New Mexico had no such requirement.
Since taking office, Martinez had tried repeatedly to repeal the immigrant driver’s license law, but Senate Democrats had blocked the measure. This session, however, Martinez and lawmakers faced pressure to resolve their difference after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the state wouldn’t get an extension on tougher federal REAL ID mandates.
“I was always willing to compromise,” said Martinez, who this session dropped her push for the repeal of driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally. “But when it passes unanimously — minus one — you have to wonder why it didn’t pass a whole lot sooner.”
Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant rights group, said the new bill passed thanks to Senate Democrats and advocates who resisted the governor’s draconian provisions to turn the state Motor Vehicle Division into an immigration enforcement agency — a charge the governor’s office denied.
“We were able to put the brakes on the governor’s anti-immigrant agenda,” Diaz said. That included previous attempts to end all driving privileges for immigrants in the country illegally, she said.
Javier Benavidez, executive director of the advocacy group SouthWest Organizing Project, said Martinez and lawmakers wasted valuable time fighting over driver’s licenses since 2011 when they should have been more focused on anti-poverty initiatives and fixing the state’s economy.
“Look at the indicators in New Mexico,” said Benavidez, referring to statistics that show the state with the highest percentages of people living in poverty. “It’s going to take a long time for us to recover.”
For her part, Martinez said she has been focusing on trying to diversify the state’s economy and pointed to various initiatives aimed at attracting new businesses. She called criticism that the driver’s license issue was a diversion is “absolutely incorrect.”
“I’ve never taken my eyes off the ball,” she said.
New Mexico governor gets long-sought driver’s license reform
Posted: Feb 16, 2016 8:56 AM MST Updated: Feb 16, 2016 8:56 AM MST
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez finally got lawmakers to pass her long-sought revision of a state law that grants driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally.
But it came at a cost.
Since taking office, the Republican and nation’s only Latina governor faced charges of racism and pushing an “anti-immigrant agenda.” Critics called her a bad Catholic and questioned her administration’s effort to seek more extensions from the U.S. Department of Homeland on tougher federal REAL ID mandates.
Martinez says she wanted to change law because of fraud, not immigration.
Driver’s license deal heads to governor
SANTA FE – The Legislature has sent Gov. Susana Martinez a plan to put New Mexico in line with the federal Real ID Act, clearing the way for the state’s driver’s licenses to be acceptable identification at secure federal facilities and airports.
The compromise legislation was one of the biggest challenges of the 30-day session, which ends Thursday.
And it resolves the five-year debate over whether undocumented immigrants should continue to get driver’s licenses.
The House chamber – lawmakers and the public watching from the gallery – broke into spontaneous applause Monday after the final vote was taken.
The legislation went to Gov. Susana Martinez when the House voted 65-1 to go along with significant changes the Senate had made to the bill, House Bill 99.
Martinez, who supports the compromise, has until March 9 to sign it.
Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, a sponsor of the original HB 99, said the bill would protect public safety in New Mexico and nationally.
The legislation “ensures that New Mexico will no longer be a magnet for fraud rings that peddle and sell driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants from all over the world,” Pacheco said during a brief debate on the House floor.
Pacheco stressed that, under the legislation, undocumented immigrants would no longer be issued driver’s licenses, as they have been under state law since 2003. That’s been a priority for Martinez since she was elected in 2010.
Instead, undocumented immigrants – and any citizens who want them – will be issued driving authorization cards that are not good for official federal purposes.
Immigrants’ rights groups hailed the legislation because undocumented immigrants will continue to be able to drive legally.
And fingerprinting – which Martinez sought for all undocumented immigrants getting driving cards – is restricted in the compromise to new applicants, those without current New Mexico licenses.
“Unquestionably, it’s a victory for our immigrant community in New Mexico. … And I think it’s a victory for this process, which has finally worked,” said House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.
The original version of HB 99, as approved by the House, would have required New Mexicans here legally to get Real ID licenses. And only undocumented immigrants would have gotten driving cards – a provision opponents said amounted to a “scarlet letter.”
“More than 90,000 of us who have lived, worked and contributed to this state fought successfully for the dignity of our families and in practical terms came out unscathed,” the immigrants’ rights groups Somos Un Pueblo Unido said in a statement.
Lawmakers felt more pressure this year to bring licenses into compliance with the Real ID law because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began enforcing a crackdown on the use of New Mexico licenses at secure federal facilities in January.
The DHS also had announced that, as of January 2018, New Mexico licenses would not be sufficient identification to board commercial airliners for domestic flights.
Under the just-passed legislation, “New Mexicans will not need passports to board a domestic flight or to access our labs and bases,” Pacheco said.
The Taxation and Revenue Department plans to ask the DHS to immediately give New Mexico another extension for Real ID compliance, which would allow current driver’s licenses to be used again to access secure federal facilities, such as military bases.
The legislation requires the department to begin issuing Real ID-compliant licenses within six months.
The department’s plan is to issue new licenses or driving authorization cards when current licenses expire.
- Gov. Susana Martinez would sign House Bill 99 by March 9.
- Taxation and Revenue Department would ask Department of Homeland Security for an extension to make current New Mexico licenses acceptable again.
- Taxation and Revenue Department would submit Real ID implementation plan to Department of Homeland Security for approval.
- Under House Bill 99, Taxation and Revenue would begin issuing Real ID licenses no later than about mid-November.
- New Mexicans who want to be real ID-compliant could keep their current licenses until they expire, or until 2020, and then get new licenses.
Feb. 16 First News: New Mexico’s Struggle On REAL ID Law And Immigrant Licenses Now Over-Listen
By Tom Trowbridge • 2/16/2016
After years of struggle, lawmakers have reached agreement on making New Mexico compliant under the federal REAL ID Act. The House of Representatives voting 65-1 on Monday to approve a Senate-amended bill. Republican Governor Susana Martinez has praised the legislation that would require undocumented immigrants in the state to submit fingerprints before getting new “driving authorization cards.” Those fingerprints would be given to the FBI for background checks. Immigrants in the country illegally who currently have New Mexico driver’s licenses can skip the fingerprinting requirement. All state residents could apply for REAL ID compliant licenses or just authorization cards. The REAL ID Act requires proof of legal U.S. residency for those who want to use state identification to access certain areas of federal facilities.
The New Mexico Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of the state’s six-point-two-billion dollar budget by a 39-to-one vote Monday. The vote tally coming after more debate on how to cover suddenly-huge shortfalls ahead the rest of this and the upcoming fiscal years.
Listen to the radio report here.
Driver’s license compromise finally heads to governor’s desk
Posted: Monday, February 15, 2016 10:00 pm | Updated: 10:22 pm, Mon Feb 15, 2016.
The state House of Representatives sent a bill to Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday that would make New Mexico compliant with the federal Real ID Act and continue to allow undocumented immigrants to legally drive, ending a bitter five-year political battle.
The 65-1 vote signifies one of the greater accomplishments by lawmakers in the 30-day legislative session, which ends Thursday.
Immigrant advocates and Martinez, who has said she will sign the bill into law, were both satisfied with the legislation because it allows undocumented immigrants to drive and makes the state Real ID-compliant.
Under the bill, U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status have the option to get a Real ID-compliant license. Those who don’t want a Real ID license and undocumented immigrants who can’t qualify for one could get a driving-authorization card, but it would not be recognized as identification by some federal agencies.
The Real ID-compliant licenses are needed to enter secure federal facilities and to board a commercial plane, flying domestically.
The bill, which was heavily amended by Senate Democrats, also requires undocumented immigrants to provide their fingerprints to the state Motor Vehicle Division for a criminal background check in order to get the driving card. If the prints don’t match the name in databases or the applicant has an outstanding warrant, those issues must be resolved before they could get a driving card.
The estimated 90,000 undocumented immigrants who already have a driver’s license would be grandfathered into the system to get a driving card without having to provide their fingerprints.
Since 2011, Martinez asked lawmakers to repeal a 2003 law that allows undocumented immigrants to get a license, because she said it was a dangerous practice. This year, the governor and Republican lawmakers softened their tone, saying undocumented immigrants could still drive legally with a driving card.
The Real ID Act of 2005 established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. The standards include a Social Security number and proof of legal U.S. citizenship or legal admittance to the country. The federal government has repeatedly delayed enforcement. Currently it is saying that if the state is not compliant by 2018, air passengers will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification, such as a passport, on domestic flights. As of January 2016, 23 states were compliant.
Legislature sends Gov. Martinez the Real ID bill
SANTA FE — The Legislature has sent Gov. Susana Martinez a plan to put New Mexico in line with the federal Real ID Act, clearing the way for the state’s driver licenses to be acceptable identification at secure federal facilities and airports.The compromise legislation was one of the biggest challenges of the 30-day session, which ends Thursday.
House Bill 99 also resolves the five-year fight over whether to stop issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.It creates a driving authorization card, not compliant with Real ID, that is available to undocumented immigrants as well as to citizens and others with lawful presence who want it.
The legislation went to the governor Monday when the House voted 65-1 to go along with significant changes the Senate made to it.The original version of House Bill 99, as approved by the House, required New Mexicans here legally to get Real ID licenses.
And only undocumented immigrants would have gotten driving cards.Martinez, who has said she supports the compromise bill, has until March 9 to sign it.
The Taxation and Revenue Department plans to ask the federal Department of Homeland Security to immediately give New Mexico another extension for Real ID compliance, which would allow current driver’s licenses to be used again to access secure federal facilities such as military bases.
SANTA FE – The state Senate on Saturday approved 41-1 a bill that clears the way for eligible New Mexicans to get Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and undocumented immigrants to continue to drive legally.
The bipartisan compromise ends five years of bitter feuding in the Legislature over who should have driver’s licenses.
And it ensures that citizens can opt for an ID that gives them access to secure facilities and commercial airliners as the federal government clamps down on IDs.
The House still must approve the Senate-passed version of House Bill 99 before it would reach the desk of Gov. Susana Martinez, who supports it.
The governor said in a statement that the Senate “did the right thing” in passing the bill.
“We believe it is a strong compromise,” Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who was a co-sponsor of the proposal, told his colleagues during floor debate.
It would give New Mexicans who are citizens, or otherwise here legally, the option of getting Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses – by showing documents including a birth certificate or passport and proof of a Social Security number – or getting a driving authorization card.
“Providing New Mexicans with a meaningful choice of whether to get a Real ID driver’s license is important,” said Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales, who co-sponsored the proposal along with Smith.
Undocumented immigrants would be eligible only for the driving authorization cards.
“This is a win for public safety. This is a win for compassion for immigrants,” said Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque.
Undocumented immigrants who don’t already have New Mexico licenses – which is allowed under a 2003 law – would have to provide fingerprints to get the cards.
Fingerprints would be sent to the FBI to check for criminal warrants or aliases.
That provision is what prompted Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, to cast the only no vote on the bill.
She said the fingerprint provision would have a “chilling effect” on the immigrant community.
Lopez told the Journal she is concerned about undocumented women who are victims of domestic violence being deterred from applying for driving cards – which they would need to drive to safety and live on their own – because they’re intimidated by the fingerprinting.
Smith said the groundwork for the new compromise was laid last year when the Senate overwhelmingly passed a two-tiered system of licenses, one Real ID-compliant and one not.
When Gov. Martinez indicated this year for the first time that she would accept a proposal that allowed undocumented immigrants to continue to drive legally, that was “a huge move,” he said.
Since she was elected in 2010, Martinez has tried to get the Legislature to repeal the 2003 law, which she has repeatedly called “dangerous,” contending that it made New Mexico a magnet for fraud.
She backed the original version of HB 99, which would have forced citizens and others here legally to get Real ID-compliant licenses, provided driving cards only to the undocumented, and required the state to turn over information about civil or criminal warrants for undocumented applicants to federal immigration authorities.
But Saturday, the governor reiterated her support for the compromise.
“I support this bill, appreciate the Republicans and Democrats in each chamber who worked with me to solve this problem together, and look forward to the House sending this bill to my desk,” she said.
The sponsors of the original House bill, GOP Reps. Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque and Andy Nuñez of Hatch, said in a statement they were “proud to support the bill passed by the Senate today and we look forward to sending it over to the Governor for her signature.”
“I’m glad it’s over,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said in an interview after the vote.
Smith and Ingle “did a heck of a job putting it all together,” he said.
Sanchez said he remains concerned that the administration act quickly to notify the federal Department of Homeland Security once the legislation is signed, so that the state can obtain another extension to allow current driver’s licenses to be used to access federal facilities.
Sanchez had said before the legislative session that the issue would be fixed.
“I made it clear to the (Democratic) caucus that we were going to get it resolved one way or the other this year,” he said. “We all worked hard to get it done.”
Governor, immigrants declare victory in driver’s license compromise
Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016 9:15 pm | Updated: 11:30 pm, Fri Feb 12, 2016.
A state Senate committee unanimously approved an amended bipartisan bill on Friday that could end a five-year political battle by making New Mexico compliant with the federal Real ID Act while continuing to allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally.
Both Gov. Susana Martinez and immigrant advocates claimed victory over the approval of the bill, which would exempt most immigrant drivers from fingerprinting. The legislation, which the Senate Finance Committee approved on a 10-0 vote, now goes to the full Senate.
Martinez lost most of what she wanted and campaigned on for five years — a repeal of driving privileges for undocumented immigrants. The bill that she said she will sign into law allows undocumented immigrants to get state-issued driving authorization cards.
The bill also allows U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status to decide if they want a license that complies with the federal Real ID Act or the same type of authorization card that will go to immigrants with proof of identity and residency in New Mexico.
Still, Martinez threw her support to the bill Friday.
“I support this bill in its current form, and call on lawmakers in both chambers to do what the people have asked us,” Martinez said in an email. “Let’s pass this bill as is.”
Under the bill, the state Motor Vehicle Division would only fingerprint undocumented immigrants who don’t currently have a state driver’s license and are newly applying for the driving authorization card, which couldn’t be used for federal identification purposes.
The fingerprints would be used to conduct criminal background checks using the FBI’s database. If any warrants or another alias are found for an applicant, the state would ask the undocumented immigrant to take care of those issues before he or she can get a driving authorization card. The information collected from the FBI can’t be shared with immigration officials, as Republicans first wanted, per federal policy.
State Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, who originally introduced the legislation and then saw Senate Democrats in another committee strip it of the fingerprinting requirement altogether, said he supports the bill the way the Senate Finance Committee amended it on Friday. The Real ID Act doesn’t require states to collect fingerprints from anyone, but Pacheco said such a provision was necessary to prevent fraud.
“That does take a huge bump out of the road,” Pacheco told the panel. “I appreciate it.”
Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group, said immigrants are happy because Martinez lost a yearslong “war.”
Immigrants were against the bill’s original fingerprint provision because it would have required the state to contact immigration officials to notify them about any outstanding warrants the applicant may have had. This, advocates said, would have led to the deportation of a lot of immigrants.
“If you compare the initial bill, which included repeal and cancellations, to the one that got out of Senate Finance tonight, it’s night and day,” said Elsa Lopez of Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
It’s unclear how many undocumented immigrants the fingerprint provision would affect in the future. But according to the state Taxation and Revenue Department statistics, fewer new immigrants are applying for licenses. Last year, 4,026 immigrants obtained a driver’s license for the first time. That is a 73 percent drop from 2010, when the state provided the most licenses to immigrants.
It isn’t known how many first-time applicants are undocumented immigrants because the current law doesn’t ask for immigration status. It only distinguishes foreign nationals from U.S. citizens.
The federal law says New Mexico licenses have to meet certain requirements in order to use them to enter a secured federal facility. In 2018, if the license isn’t compliant, it won’t be accepted to enter a commercial plane to fly domestically.
Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.
Senate panel OKs revamped New Mexico REAL ID bill with fingerprints
Feb. 12, 2016, 10 p.m.
View video here or at link below.
Senate Finance Committee approves bipartisan REAL ID bill
Published: 12:38 am, Fri. February 12th, 2016 Updated: 12:32 am
A key committee in the New Mexico Senate tonight unanimously approved House Bill 99, a bipartisan compromise to bring the state’s driver’s licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID requirements.The bill now advances to the Senate floor for a full vote.
Reflecting those concerns, HB 99 allows individuals residing in New Mexico with lawful presence the choice to instead apply for one of the driver’s authorization cards available to undocumented immigrants.
SANTA FE – A compromise bill bringing New Mexico driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal Real ID law passed a Senate committee on Friday and headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
Gov. Susana Martinez praised it as a “hard-fought compromise” and said she supported the legislation.
Its approval by the Senate and the House would end years of wrangling over driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and pave the way for eligible New Mexicans to get Real ID-compliant licenses good for accessing secure federal installations and boarding commercial aircraft.
The Senate Finance Committee reinstated a limited fingerprint requirement for undocumented immigrants into House Bill 99 and approved it unanimously.
House Bill 99 would create a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, available to citizens and others legally in the U.S.
It also would provide a driving authorization card for undocumented immigrants and for anyone here legally who wants it.
Martinez praised the bill because it “stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.” She has tried since she took office in 2011 to get the Legislature to repeal a 2003 law that allows that.
Immigrants’ rights advocates, however, said Martinez “has lost her six-year war against immigrant families.”
“Immigrants will continue to drive legally in our state long after she is out of office,” said a statement issued by Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a statewide advocacy group.
The bill would require fingerprinting only for undocumented immigrants who don’t already have a New Mexico driver’s license, and only the first time they applied.
The committee scrambled to add an amendment – to meet the administration’s concerns – that would have the Department of Public Safety submit those fingerprints to the FBI for criminal background checks.
That could reveal, for example, whether an applicant had outstanding criminal warrants or was using an alias.
The legislation does not require state officials to match fingerprints to databases and report information about civil or criminal warrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as the bill did when it passed the House.
Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said that although fingerprinting of future applicants is “unnecessary and discriminatory,” at least that information can’t be used “to aid in the deportation of our families.”
The House-passed bill supported by Martinez would have provided driving cards only to undocumented immigrants and required citizens and others here legally to get Real ID-compliant licenses. The plan for driving cards was criticized as a “scarlet letter” provision.
Senate committees changed the bill to allow citizens and other legal residents the option of getting either the Real ID license or the card.
Under House Bill 99 as it was amended and approved by the Senate Finance Committee, driving privilege cards for undocumented immigrants would initially be good for two years, then for four years when they were renewed.
Licenses would be good for either four years or eight years.
Licenses and cards would be distinguishable in color or design, and the driving authorization card would be marked “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES,” as required by the Real ID law.
“This is probably the best compromise we can come up with at this point in time for the state Senate,” Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, told the committee.
He, other legislative leaders and administration officials have been meeting behind closed doors over the past few days to try to reach an agreement.
Martinez said in a statement, “We have worked for five years to do the work that New Mexicans have asked us to do, and tonight we are one step closer to ending the dangerous law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.”
She said the bill “provides a secure ID, and includes security measures that New Mexicans expect and deserve” and urged lawmakers to support it in its current form.
Finish line in sight: REAL ID compromise passes committee
Feb. 12, 2016, 10 p.m.
A long-running debate over a controversial issue looks like it is near an end.
The Senate Finance Committee on Friday night unanimously passed legislation related to driver’s licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally. The legislation would put New Mexico in line with the federal REAL ID Act while allowing those who are in the country illegally to continue to drive legally.
Gov. Susana Martinez indicated that she would support the legislation, if it passes in the current form.
Martinez’s office did not provide a statement to NM Political Report, as they did to other media outlets and later put on Twitter.
“I support this bill in its current form, and call on lawmakers in both chambers to do what the people have asked us,” Martinez said. “Let’s pass this bill—as is.”
Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, declared victory, despite a series of critical tweets from their official Twitter account.
“We believe strongly that the governor has lost her six year war against immigrant families,” Diaz said. “Immigrant families will continue to drive legally long after this governor is out of office.”
She said that Gov. Susana Martinez originally wanted to make it so no one in the country illegally could drive, but that this version will allow “the 90,000 families” to continue to drive.
FBI background check amendment
The big sticking point between the Senate version and the House version was a provision that would require fingerprints from those who cannot prove they are in the country legally. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales agreed to add this provision to their legislation.
The fingerprinting provision would only apply to those in the country without lawful status who did not already have a driver’s license or identification card. Those who have licenses already would be grandfathered in..
Much of the discussion focused on if the state should use the fingerprints to check against the FBI database for a background check. After much discussion—and a short recess—the committee approved an amendment that would allow the state to use the FBI database.
Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, brought the amendment.
“Mr. Chairman, we love the amendment,” Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said of Neville’s amendment. This is something he has not been able to say since the bill crossed over to the Senate side after the legislation passed the House.
Pacheco was the original sponsor, though Smith and Ingle took over the legislation with an extensive amendment in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
Pacheco still expressed caution when he spoke to reporters afterward and said that things could still happen while on the Senate floor.
“The enabling language really makes a huge difference,” he told reporters, referring to the amendment. “Actually, we’ve been fighting for that all along.”
He said the fingerprints would only be sent to the FBI and not any other agency, specifically mentioning immigration.
The fingerprints would be taken by the Motor Vehicle Department and sent to the Department of Public Safety.
“We’re about as close as close can be,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said as walking by reporters ahead of the bill’s passage.
REAL ID compliance
Smith said that their legislation fulfilled the main purpose, which had nothing to do with fingerprints.
“It’s our understanding that it will make us REAL ID compliant,” Smith said.
REAL ID became a major talking point in recent months after the federal government did not give the state a waiver to comply with its regulations. That means New Mexico licenses were not valid for entrance to federal facilities and, in a few years, would not be valid for identification for domestic air travel.
If this becomes law, New Mexico would be granted a waiver by the Department of Homeland Security.
Those who are in the country legally but do not wish to have a REAL ID-compliant card would only need to provide proof that they are in the country legally—they would not need to provide fingerprints.
The House version did not give those in the country legally an option between a REAL ID or non-REAL ID compliant card; they all would have the bill that complies with the federal law.
Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said that it was a very difficult discussion to require fingerprints for those who can’t prove they are in the country legally.
She said it was sending a signal that “we’re closing the borders, we’re closing the doors.”
Before the amendment
Pacheco objected to the original version brought forth by Smith and Ingle, before the FBI fingerprint amendment was added by Neville.
“We had a piece of legislation, an amendment that we had seen and we thought we all had agreed on,” Pacheco said. “But this certainly is not the piece.”
“I kind of feel like I was misled,” he added.
Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla was even more harsh when speaking about the portion that said it would not be shared with the FBI.
“It does absolutely nothing,” Padilla said. “It is worthless. It is meaningless words on a piece of paper.”
Their concerns were assuaged by the amendment brought by Neville, and they supported the version that passed.
The bill now heads to the Senate. If it were to clear the Senate, it would then go to the House for concurrence. After that, it would go to Martinez’s desk to either sign or veto.
SANTA FE – As legislative leaders negotiated behind the scenes over how the state should comply with Real ID, advocates for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault urged them not to make fingerprinting part of the solution.
Forcing undocumented immigrants to provide fingerprints to get a driving authorization card would be an “additional and unnecessary barrier” that would deter them from applying, 27 organizations said in a statement.
“Essentially, we’d turn away these individuals. We’d put them back in the shadows,” Damian Lara, president of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, said at a news conference.
Advocates said a driving card or license is a crucial tool for domestic violence survivors who may need to drive to safety, open a bank account or cash a check, check into a hotel or get an order of protection against an abuser.
A Senate committee last week stripped a fingerprinting requirement out of a House-passed bill that would provide driving authorization cards to undocumented immigrants.
The House’s Republican majority immediately complained, saying fingerprinting was a security issue and its removal was a deal-breaker.
With the bill pending in the Senate Finance Committee, closed-door talks have been held this week – involving House and Senate leaders and the Governor’s Office – in an effort to reach a deal.
“We’re still working. …We are closer than we were,” Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, sponsor of House Bill 99, said Thursday.
Before the provision was removed from that bill, it would have required undocumented immigrants to submit fingerprints that would be forwarded to the FBI.
The Department of Public Safety also was mandated to check the fingerprints against state and regional databases. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be notified of any criminal history or civil or criminal warrants.
“We’re still discussing the fingerprint issue,” said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, co-sponsor of the Senate’s rewrite of House Bill 99.
The opponents of fingerprinting said knowing that ICE would be notified of warrants – including a civil warrant issued because ICE suspects someone is in the country illegally – would scare people away from applying for driving cards because of the risk of deportation.
Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, said the fingerprinting requirement would “create a chilling effect for the immigrant community.” It would mean a return to the time when undocumented immigrants – because they were unlicensed – were wary of interacting with police – for example, as victims or witnesses.
Aired Feb. 11, 2016
Legislative roundup, Feb. 12, 2016
Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:15 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Fri Feb 12, 2016.
No to fingerprints: Numerous groups, including the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, said Thursday they oppose requiring fingerprinting of undocumented immigrants who receive state driver’s licenses or driver’s authorization cards.
House Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez favor fingerprinting of immigrants seeking driving privileges. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have stripped the fingerprinting provision out of a House bill. The New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Santa Fe Safe said the Senate rewrite of the bill is better for public safety.
They say facial imaging on driver’s licenses already provides states with a good security system against fraud. Fingerprinting, they say, would be an expensive and punitive measure that would discourage immigrants from obtaining a driver’s authorization card or license. The advocacy groups say licenses are “an essential tool” for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in seeking help and safety.
Domestic abuse victim advocate groups and Democratic lawmakers met on Thursday to speak out against fingerprints and background checks in driver’s license legislation preferred by the House.
Sheila Lewis, director of the victim advocacy group Santa Fe Safe, said background checks and fingerprinting for driver’s licenses may affect how some undocumented immigrants decide to report domestic abuse.
“As we work to eliminate violence in the home we should not institute policies that restrict survivors’ ability to obtain a license that can help them get an order of protection against an abuser,” Lewis said.
Lewis went on to say that background checks and fingerprint requirements would create “an additional barrier, and an unnecessary barrier” for some immigrants.
Democratic legislators also testified against the fingerprinting provision.
Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said many women in her district have been able to escape abusive situations by having a driver’s license by being able to drive.
Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, said the proposal to add more requirements would actually create a more unsafe environment in New Mexico.
“We’ll be back in the situation we were in before 2003, when we had a lot of unlicensed drivers,
our insurance rates were higher and our community was less safe,” Chasey said, referring to the 2003 law that allows undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license in New Mexico.
Gov. Susana Martinez has stood on her platform to repeal the current driver’s license law since she first ran for governor, and it has been a perennial issue for the last six years. Martinez indicated for the first time this year that she would accept some sort of compromise.
Recent pressure from the federal government to require New Mexico to become compliant with the federal REAL ID Act has increased the anxiety around the state and the urgency around the issue.
House Republicans pushed for a bill that would issue driving privilege cards to undocumented immigrants after a background check and fingerprinting is conducted.
The Senate heavily amended the House version, HB 99, to closer match the Senate version sponsored by Sens. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. The bill does not require fingerprints for those who do not have a REAL ID-compliant license.
The Ingle-Smith bill also does not require those who are in the country legally to have a REAL ID-compliant license.
The bill is currently pending in the Senate Finance Committee, though those involved have indicated in recent days that talks on a compromise continue.
If the Senate accepts HB 99, the House would need to agree with the Senate changes before it heads to Martinez’s desk.
Immigrant licenses at lowest level since 2003
New Mexico issued the fewest number of new driver’s licenses to immigrants in 2015 since a 2003 law was approved that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a license, according to statistics released Tuesday.The state Taxation and Revenue Department released the numbers as lawmakers, in the current legislative session, continue to debate changes to the driver’s license law in order to make state licenses compliant with the federal Real ID Act.
New Mexico lawmakers have spent a lot of time on the issue because in October, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it wouldn’t grant the state an extension to become Real ID-compliant. This meant that certain secured federal institutions wouldn’t accept a New Mexico license as a form of identification.
The federal government said, however, that New Mexicans can continue to use their driver’s licenses to board a commercial domestic flight until at least 2018.
According to Tuesday’s report, the state issued 4,026 driver’s licenses in 2015 to immigrants applying for the first time, a 12 percent drop in new licenses for foreign nationals from 2014. Those numbers include licenses for both undocumented immigrants and immigrants who have legal residency in the U.S. The 2003 law doesn’t require state officials to ask for legal status, but it does distinguish between immigrant applicants and U.S. citizens.
The peak for immigrant licenses in New Mexico was in 2010, a year before Gov. Susana Martinez became governor, with 15,332 new licenses issued to immigrants. That year, Arizona approved a law requiring police officers to question people about their immigration status, causing many immigrants to flee the state and move to New Mexico.
Since 2003, New Mexico has issued 116,020 driver’s licenses to immigrants.
Martinez has made several unsuccessful efforts to revoke licenses from undocumented immigrants since she took office. Her office didn’t respond to an email Tuesday from The New Mexican seeking comment on the new report.
It’s unclear why the number of new immigrant licenses dwindled last year, but according to a recent study, the number of undocumented immigrants in the state also has fallen.
A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute, says between 2009 and 2012, New Mexico lost 20,000 “unauthorized” immigrants, a drop from 90,000 to 70,000 during that time period.
The lack of jobs and a slow recovery of the economy have caused many immigrants to leave the state, immigration experts have said.
This week, the state Senate Finance Committee is expected to debate an amended Republican-sponsored bill that would create a two-tier driver’s license system. Under the measure, U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status would be able to obtain a Real ID-compliant license. Those who don’t want a federally approved license and undocumented immigrants who don’t qualify for one would be able to get a driving authorization card that couldn’t be used for federal purposes.
Under the original proposal, the state would fingerprint driving card applicants and check the FBI’s criminal database to determine if there are any outstanding warrants for the applicant. If a warrant is found, state officials would have to notify immigration officials, which could lead to an applicant’s deportation.
Martinez has said she would veto any bill that doesn’t have this provision. She says such a provision would deter fraud.
In 2015, Utah passed a law that would require criminal background checks on people who apply for a driving privilege card in that state. Under the law, state officials would notify federal immigration officials if they found a outstanding warrant for an applicant. But the FBI told the state it couldn’t use the agency’s database for this purpose.
Utah lawmakers plan to amend the law. Instead of using the FBI database, officials would use a local database to conduct background checks on driving card applicants.
GOP senators have capital idea on driver’s licenses
Posted: Sunday, February 7, 2016 11:45 pm | Updated: 3:07 pm, Mon Feb 8, 2016.
Logic and reason are winning the five-year political war over driver’s licenses in New Mexico. That’s good for you, the consumer, and it’s good for police officers patrolling the streets. The only person worse for what’s happening at the state Capitol is Gov. Susana Martinez. She’s made taking away driver’s licenses from undocumented immigrants her signature issue, even as New Mexico has the highest unemployment rate in America and the second-worst ranking for child well-being. So much for priorities.
Real ID bill hits a snag over fingerprinting issue
By Deborah Baker / Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 12:05am
SANTA FE – Does the fate of Real ID compliance for New Mexico rest on a dispute over fingerprinting?
It sounded that way Wednesday, as House Republicans described it as a deal-breaker.
But with the 30-day legislative session just halfway over, there are likely more twists and turns in store.
When a Senate committee on Tuesday retooled a House bill creating Real ID compliant driver’s licenses, it removed a provision requiring undocumented immigrants who apply for driving authorization cards to be fingerprinted.
House Republican leaders complained Wednesday that Senate Democratic leaders had reneged on a commitment by doing that.
Asked at a news conference if not having fingerprinting in the bill was a deal-breaker, House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, said, “Yes.”
Senate leaders said there never had been a commitment and that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez “keeps moving the goal posts” in the pursuit of an agreement on making New Mexico driver’s licenses Real ID-compliant.
Democrats on the Senate Public Affairs Committee said the fingerprinting requirement was unnecessary, undignified and punitive before they stripped it out at a Tuesday meeting.
House Bill 99, before it was revamped, required the fingerprints of undocumented applicants for a driving card to be forwarded to the FBI.
The Department of Public Safety was mandated to check the fingerprints against state and regional criminal databases. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency would be notified of any criminal history or warrant record, under the House-passed legislation.
Critics objected that the provisions would create a pipeline for deportation.
But Gentry said Wednesday at a news conference that it is “critically important to our (Republican) caucus that we do have some security measures in whatever bill we send up to the governor.”
She has threatened to veto any bill that lacks sufficient security provisions.
Gentry pointed to a Jan. 7 letter to GOP House Speaker Don Tripp signed by Democratic leaders in the Senate and House in which they listed “useful suggestions … that we are ready to support” in an effort to compromise on Real ID. The list included fingerprinting.
Gentry singled out Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, claiming he reneged on a commitment.
Senate Democratic leaders denied there ever was a commitment. The letter was an effort to enlist Tripp’s support in persuading the Department of Homeland Security to hold off on cracking down on New Mexico licenses. Tripp never responded to the letter, and there was no agreement on the issue, they said.
Jim Farrell, a spokesman for Sanchez, also said at the time the Democrats wrote the letter, they hadn’t seen “how punitive this bill was on the issue of fingerprinting.”
Senate leaders pointed out that of the 10 other states that give licenses or driving cards to undocumented immigrants, only one requires fingerprinting.
“What’s the public policy behind taking fingerprints?” asked Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.
But he and other Democratic leaders also said they were open to talking more with House Republicans about it. The bill, which cleared the Public Affairs Committee on a bipartisan, 8-1 vote, still has two more committee stops before it would reach the full Senate.
“Our door’s open on the Senate side. We’re receptive to discussion,” said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.
SANTA FE – The Senate Public Affairs Committee Tuesday evening put its own stamp on a House-passed driver’s license bill and passed it, over the objections of some Republicans who said the legislation had been hijacked.
The altered House Bill 99 is headed to two more committees before it would reach the full Senate for a vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee is next.
The committee basically put the provisions of Senate Bill 256 – sponsored by Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales and Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming – into HB 99, with a few changes.
The altered legislation creates a two-tier system: driver’s licenses that are Real ID-compliant, and a second-tier driving card that is not.
Unlike the original HB 99, it would allow citizens and others who are here legally to opt into the Real ID-compliant license or the noncompliant driver’s card.
The original HB 99 would have required those here legally to get Real ID-compliant licenses, and restricted the driving cards to undocumented immigrants.
Under the revamped HB 99, the second-tier card is called a driving authorization card. The original HB 99 called it a driving privilege card.
The bill as it passed would issue driving authorization cards for four years to those here legally, and two years to those who are undocumented.
Public Affairs Committee Chairman Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, said the amended bill “achieves essentially what 99 did, in less punitive language.”
The Democratic-dominated committee amended HB 99 on a 5-4 vote, over the objections of its Republican members, who said they hadn’t had enough time to review the amendments. The final vote, passage of the amended bill, was 8-1.
Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, who sponsored HB 99, objected to the committee’s action, saying he wanted to stick to the bill as it passed the House.
“The best way to move this forward is to pass House Bill 99 as it is,” he said.
“We have been here two weeks. … The citizens of New Mexico are ready for us to act,” Ingle said.
He said it didn’t make sense to wait until the last minute to approve legislation. The session ends Feb. 18.
Gov. Susana Martinez said the amended HB 99 “unacceptably retreats” on some security issues.
A spokesman for Martinez said any bill the Legislature passes must end the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and contain “common-sense security provisions and standards … or it will be vetoed.”
Martinez objects that the amended HB 99 does not require fingerprinting of undocumented immigrants applying for driving privilege cards, as the House-passed House Bill 99 does.
Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla told the committee fingerprinting would be “used as a deterrent. … It keeps the bad folks away.”
She also acknowledged under committee questioning that of 10 other states or jurisdictions that allow undocumented immigrants to get some sort of driving privilege, only Utah has been requiring fingerprinting.
Senate critics suggested it was discriminatory.
“If we required fingerprinting on everybody else, it would be different,” said Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque.
Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said that although the revised HB99 “stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, it unacceptably retreats on provisions already agreed to by Senate leaders – like requiring fingerprints before driver permits are provided to illegal immigrants. It also has several provisions in it that actually make it easier to commit fraud.”
The reference to an unacceptable retreat on fingerprinting refers to a Jan. 7 letter from Senate and House Democratic leaders in which they said they were ready to support fingerprinting.
The original HB 99 required citizens and anyone else with lawful presence to get Real ID-compliant licenses. Only undocumented immigrants could carry driving privilege cards, which critics say amounts to a “scarlet letter” that could subject undocumented immigrants to discrimination and harassment.
Martinez’s spokesman said she supports the original House Bill 99, which “ensures New Mexico has a secure ID, stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, wouldn’t create confusion at federal installations or airports, and provides adequate security provisions.”
Republicans on Senate panel join Dems in passing stripped-down House Real ID measure
Posted: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 10:15 pm | Updated: 10:35 pm, Tue Feb 2, 2016.
After more than three hours of debating nearly half a dozen proposals Tuesday that would make the state compliant with the federal Real ID Act while still allowing undocumented immigrants in New Mexico to drive legally, a Senate committee passed along an amended version of a Republican-sponsored House bill calling for driving privilege cards. The Democrat-controlled Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 8-1, with three Republicans joining the panel’s five Democrats, to approve a proposal that amended Albuquerque Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco’s House Bill 99. Pacheco’s bill swiftly passed the House last week.
Since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced in October that New Mexico driver’s licenses wouldn’t be recognized for federal purposes under the Real ID Act — such as entering a military base — state lawmakers have proposed various measures that they say will resolve the issue while still allowing immigrants without lawful residency to drive legally in the state.
Pacheco’s was one of the most controversial because it would create a one-year renewable driving privilege card only for undocumented residents.
The amended bill, however, would give U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status the option to obtain a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, and those who don’t want a Real ID-license, along with undocumented immigrants who don’t qualify for one, could apply for a two-year driving privilege card.
Democrats also stripped some provisions that Pacheco wanted and Gov. Susana Martinez supported. For example, Pacheco’s bill would require undocumented immigrants to provide fingerprints to the state Department of Public Safety in order to obtain the one-year driving card.
Democrats and immigrant advocates opposed this provision because they said it would allow the state to easily track undocumented immigrants and could result in the deportation of thousands of immigrants.
Pacheco said he was disappointed that Democrats took his bill and amended it to their liking. “This is totally unacceptable,” he told the Senate panel before the vote.
State Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla, who had been testifying in legislative committees in support of Pacheco’s bill, also expressed dismay Tuesday after the committee’s vote. “It’s very disappointing what happened,” she said.
Martinez, who took office in 2011, has long vowed to seek repeal of the law that allows the state to issue licenses to applicants without proof of immigration status. Her efforts to get a repeal through the Legislature have failed repeatedly. Just before the legislative session began, she threw her support, instead, behind a plan for driving privilege cards.
But she only backs driving privilege cards for undocumented immigrants as long as the state gets their fingerprints, Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for the governor, said in an email Tuesday.
“We don’t intend to negotiate through the media, but the governor has been clear that any bill that passes the legislature must end the practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and contain the common-sense security provisions and standards New Mexicans expect and deserve, or it will be vetoed,” Sanchez said.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant rights group, backed the amended version of Pacheco’s bill, saying the proposal doesn’t discriminate against undocumented immigrants — and it recognizes that undocumented immigrants also need to drive legally.
The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers will have to act fast to approve a compromise that would make New Mexico licenses Real ID-compliant, as the current 30-day legislative session ends Feb. 18.
At this point, the sticking point for most Democrats is that they don’t want a bill that would require undocumented immigrants to get fingerprinted.
Democrats also say that the compromise bill shouldn’t force U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status to get a Real ID-compliant license if they don’t want one.
“I believe people should have a choice,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. His bill, calling for a two-tiered driver’s license system that included a Real ID-approved license and a regular driver’s license that couldn’t be used for federal purposes, was one of three that were left in the committee.
One, proposed by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, would create a Real ID-compliant identification card for residents who want one but would leave the driver’s license system largely unchanged. Another, by Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, would create Real ID-compliant licenses and identification cards for U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status. Under that bill, undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for a temporary driver’s license that states it couldn’t be recognized for federal purposes.
Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.
New Mexico Senate panel OKs REAL ID ‘compromise’
Feb. 2, 2016
KOB 10 p.m. news
Watch KOB video here or below at:
After a marathon hearing, the Senate Public Affairs Committee advanced a driver’s license bill that supporters hope will finally end the problem the state has been facing for years.
It didn’t come without controversy, in the form of an extensive amendment to the bill that passed the House, HB 99, to make it essentially a Senate bill, SB 256.
It was not a committee substitute, which would require it to go back through committees in the House. But with an amendment, if it were to pass the Senate, then the House and Senate could have a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions.
The SPAC amendment passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans against. Then, newly-amended HB 99 passed on an 8-1 vote.
SB 256 was sponsored by a bipartisan duo: Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. The two also proposed the amendment, which Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, said was unprecedented and he objected. He was lone vote against the passage of the bill itself.
The new version of the bill is essentially SB 256, which itself was similar to HB 99. While supporters say that both will be compliant with the federal REAL ID Act, there are some big differences between the two.
The new legislation does not require that those in the country legally have a REAL ID compliant card, as the original HB 99 did. In other words, citizens can choose if they want a REAL ID driver’s license.
The new bill also does not require fingerprints of those who are seeking the second tier, or driver’s authorization card. HB 99 required fingerprints from those getting a second-tier “driver’s privilege card.”
The amended bill also allows those with the second tier of card, whether they can prove legal status or not, to have that version for four years.
The original HB 99 allowed a driver’s privilege card for one year and required fingerprints for all who applied. The only people who would have been eligible for the second-tier version would have been those who could not prove they are in the country legally.
When the amendment came out, Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, expressed that he did not appreciate the effort, saying repeatedly that it “is an unfriendly amendment.”
“This is totally unacceptable,” Pacheco said later, saying the bill essentially hijacked his bill.
Pacheco declined to speak to NM Political Report after the hearing.
“The only time I’ve kind of seen something like that occurred with the film tax credit, hold-harmless bill at the end of my first session,” Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, said during the hearing.
Democrats defended the move.
“This is not just trying to pull a fast one,” Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said. “This is how you have to do it if you want to use the bill that passed through the House.”
Others said that it was not as big a change as HB 99 supporters said, saying that it was mostly minor changes.
This is the fourth year that Pacheco introduced a piece of legislation related to driver’s licenses for those who cannot prove they are in the country legally; in the previous years, his legislation was an outright repeal on those who are in the country illegally.
When asked if he would be resistant to any amendments on his bill, he said that he would. This was before the large amendment was introduced. Pacheco was unaware of the amendment proposed by Ingle and Smith at the time.
“House Bill 99 in its current form does exactly what we need it to do,” Pacheco said. He said it would make the state REAL ID compliant, allow those who are in the country illegally to drive and would protect against fraud.
Still, the committee preferred Ingle and Smith’s version.
The committee room was full of those waiting to speak on the bill, many in opposition to HB 99. They waited in the room for hours; debate on a bail reform constitutional amendment lasted for hours.
Allen Sanchez, the executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that he wanted to encourage a “compromise” then noted that there was a bill with a Republican and Democratic sponsor in front of them; that was the bill sponsored by Ingle and Smith.
Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla said that the administration supported HB 99. She said it “is a very common sense approach to get New Mexico moving forward.”
Padilla was the expert witness for Pacheco’s bill, which was cosponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch.
Padilla also spoke out against the amendment, saying it was complex and that they needed time to look at it.
Griggs and Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, proposed that SPAC take a recess so that members and sponsors could examine the amendment in full.
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said that since Pacheco had said no matter how long he had to look at the bill he would not support it, that they should just vote on the amendment and the bill.
The other three driver’s license bills were kept on the committee’s table and were not acted upon. That includes SB 256.
The impetus for the new movement on this legislation came from the federal government and the REAL ID Act. The federal government denied a waiver to New Mexico and Washington State, since the two states are not currently compliant with REAL ID.
The federal government said that New Mexico’s driver’s licenses would not be valid for entering federal facilities and it would not be valid for domestic flights by 2018.
If the state can show work towards compliance, then the restrictions will be pushed back.
Brandt has his own version, which was a straight repeal of allowing those who are in the country illegally to earn driver’s licenses.
“They do not want an alternative,” Brandt said, of his constituents. “They want a REAL ID-compliant license.”
Repealing the law was Gov. Susana Martinez’s position since being elected in 2010 until this year, where she indicated that she would support HB 99.
Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 11:49pm
SANTA FE – The Senate leaders whose driver’s license fix passed that chamber last year with bipartisan backing have added a new proposal to this year’s mix.
Senate Bill 256 was introduced Monday by Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Senate Finance Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.
Today, the Senate begins debating the contentious issue of how to bring New Mexico driver’s licenses in line with the federal Real ID Act.
Ingle called the bill “a good place to start. We need to solve this problem.”
Like House Bill 99, which is supported by House Republicans and GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, the bill has two tiers: a Real ID-compliant license and a driving privilege card.
Other Senate bills have called both tiers licenses.
Martinez is “adamant that we stop giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and provide a secure ID for New Mexico citizens,” her spokesman, Chris Sanchez, said last week.
But unlike HB 99, the driving card in SB 256 would be available not only to undocumented immigrants, but also to anyone with lawful status – meaning citizens wouldn’t be forced to get the Real ID-compliant license.
The second-tier cards under SB 256 would be good for two years – as opposed to HB 99’s one year – and wouldn’t require submitting fingerprints, as the House-passed bill would. It also doesn’t have HB 99’s requirements to complete licensed driver’s education courses, and pass written and driving tests.
“We’re trying to craft a piece of legislation that can pass the state Senate in a bipartisan vote – both Democrats and Republicans on board,” Smith said.
His 2015 bill, which passed 35-5, had as its second tier a driver’s license that was not compliant with Real ID. It also would have been available to both undocumented immigrants and those here legally.
The bill would allow qualified drivers to exchange their current licenses for Real ID-compliant licenses with the same expiration dates at no cost.
Unrelated to Real ID compliance, the bill also increases the age at which annual driver’s license renewals are required from 75 to 79.
There was no immediate comment on the legislation from Martinez’s office or from the statewide immigrants’ rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
The legislation is one of five bills that are expected to be considered today in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
“Hopefully, we can come up with a compromise that’s acceptable to all the parties,” said Committee Chairman Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque.
Also on the agenda, in addition to HB 99, is Senate Bill 174, which has a license as its second tier, making it more similar to the legislation the Senate passed last year. It, too, would allow the non Real ID-compliant license to go to citizens and others here legally, as well as to undocumented immigrants.
Immigrants’ rights advocates have objected that a driving card carried only by undocumented immigrants would amount to a “scarlet letter” subjecting them to discrimination and harassment.
Another measure, Senate Bill 216, sponsored by Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, would create a Real ID-compliant license and require the cancellation of existing licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Senate Bill 231, by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, takes an entirely different approach to making New Mexico compliant with the Real ID law.
It sidesteps the issue of driver’s licenses and instead would create a Real ID-compliant identification card that New Mexicans could apply for to have ID that was acceptable at secure federal facilities and for airline travel.
Some federal installations have already begun cracking down on the use of New Mexico licenses as ID at secure facilities and the current deadline for having Real ID-compliant licenses for air travel is January 2018.
Santa Fe New Mexican
Feb. 2, 2016
New license bill:
Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who last year co-sponsored a bill to create a two-tiered driver’s license system, introduced a new version Monday.
Senate Bill 256 differs from the bill they carried last year. It would give U.S. citizens who reside in New Mexico the option to choose a driving privilege card or a license that complies with the Real ID Act, a national identification system. Undocumented immigrants would be eligible for a privilege card.
“This bill has a two-tier license system similar to the one that was successfully instituted in other states,” Smith said in a news release. “Sen. Ingle and I … are coming together to get a Real ID compliant bill, which we must do. We want to put this issue behind us, and focus on moving our state forward. SB 256 is strong compromise legislation. We feel it is necessary to unite our state, and not divide it any further.”
The bill also differs from House Bill 99, the measure Gov. Susana Martinez favors. The driver’s privilege card in the Ingle-Smith bill would not have as many restrictions as the one in the House proposal. For instance, the bill by Smith and Ingle wouldn’t require fingerprinting of immigrants and it would be good for two years, instead of the single year called for in HB 99.
Study: Axing driver’s license law would cost state money, jobs
NM Political report
Feb. 2, 2016
A study released Monday offers a new take on a now-old debate in the New Mexico legislature—driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
The survey, published by the Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, finds that removing the state’s driver’s license law would cost the state jobs and money. More specifically, the study estimates that the state would lose $38.5 million each year, along with drops of 3 percentage points in labor participation and 1 percentage point in employment.
The study examined a proposal pushed by House Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez over the past few years, though they are looking at a different proposal this year.
“We’re looking at 1,400 jobs that are going to be vacant,” co-author Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba told NM Political Report.
The study comes as New Mexico had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for the second-straight month.
The figures, which were derived using what Rubalcaba referred to as a “residual method” extracting from the U.S. Census Bureau’s yearly American Community Survey, only accounts for undocumented men. Rubalcaba said he doesn’t have empirical data to back up why that is, but he speculates it’s because most undocumented men work in industries like construction that require driving.
Because the federal Census statistics don’t identify undocumented people, Rubalcaba said trying to figure out exact figures of how many live and work in the U.S. can be tricky.
“Even the Pew [Research Center] and the Department of Homeland Security use a residual method to figure out undocumented numbers,” he said.
He and co-author Melina Juárez method is similar to how the Migration Policy Institute and the Kaiser Foundation calculate undocumented numbers.
The authors came with their employment and dollar figures through analyzing the impact of repeal of similar measures in Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and Tennessee. The study looked at what happened as each of these states complied with the federal Real ID Act but before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) became effective. After an executive order by President Barack Obama, DACA allows undocumented immigrants approved under its provisions to apply for driver’s licenses.
The study looks at the time period from 2006 through 2010.
Rubalcaba said he and Juárez calculated potential dollar figures lost through repeal of the law by calculating the average income of undocumented male immigrants.
They then coupled all of this with 2015 New Mexico population data to come up with the study’s conclusions.
Gov. Susana Martinez and legislative Republicans made full-out repeal of the driver’s license law one of their top priorities for the last five years. This year they are pushing for a policy that would repeal the law but still allow some immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses.
Under the bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, undocumented immigrants who under fingerprinting by the state Department of Public Safety and can prove they’ve lived in the state for two years are eligible for one-year, renewable driver’s privilege cards that wouldn’t qualify as IDs. Opponents call the bill discriminatory and are proposing a less restrictive two-tier licensure system that would offer both driver’s licenses that meet Real ID and driver’s privilege cards that don’t work as IDs that undocumented immigrants are eligible for.
Rubalcaba and Juárez’s study doesn’t look at potential impacts of a two-tier system, though he said they’re considering doing so.
He emphasized that his study comes from an objective perspective.
“The purpose of this was just to look at the labor market cost of doing this policy,” he said. “When policymakers make a decision they may just consider this one cost and there may be others that we haven’t considered.”
Senate Democratic leadership has voiced support for a two-tier system where both tiers are full driver’s licenses, but only one tier is compliant with federal REAL ID.
The House passed Pacheco’s bill on mostly Republican party lines last week. The Senate Public Affairs Committee is set to hear four different driver’s license bills, including Pacheco’s, Tuesday afternoon.
DRIVER’S LICENSES FOREVER
Jan. 31, 2016
ABQ Attorney Jeff Baker writes:
A driver’s privilege card (Republican House Bill 99 that passed the House this week) requires applicants for these cards–which would be good for only one year–to be fingerprinted. When I renew my driver’s license, which is good for 8 years, all I have to do is provide a current photo.
Getting the balance right between freedom and security is challenging, but it seems as if Governor Martinez and the House Republicans want more than security. The road they are traveling does not lead to Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill.” The road they are following leads to a much darker place.
Senate may slow progress of governor’s pet bills in session’s second half
Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2016 10:15 pm | Updated: 1:05 am, Sun Jan 31, 2016.
With the 30-day session of the New Mexico Legislature nearing the halfway mark, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed many of the high-profile bills pushed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, such as a proposal to stop allowing undocumented residents to get driver’s licenses.However, the second half of the session, which ends Feb. 18, is likely to be dominated by the Democrat-controlled Senate stalling or killing many of the governor’s pet bills — and House Republicans blasting the Democrats for doing so.
Democrat-controlled Senate panel to debate competing license bills
Posted: Friday, January 29, 2016 10:30 pm | Updated: 11:12 pm, Fri Jan 29, 2016.
By Uriel J. Garcia
The New Mexican
NM Senate introduces bipartisan alternative to House’s Real ID bill
|Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The Republican-backed driver’s license bill that passed the New Mexico House of Representatives Wednesday night now faces a rocky reception in the Democrat-controlled state Senate, where a rival bill is in the works.
Senate Bill 231 was introduced Thursday afternoon. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, is the reincarnation of the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate last year.
It has some similarities to House Bill 99 but has differences too, which could mean compromises or more gridlock.
Like the House bill, it would create two kinds of licenses, but US citizens would have the right to choose one that complies with the federal Real ID requirements, or a standard license that doesn’t meet those requirements.
Undocumented immigrants would also be eligible for the second license.
The new bill is still popular with many senators in both parties.
“New Mexicans want to fix the Real ID issue,” said Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City. “People don’t care about the partisan politics and it’s time that we fix it. I believe the Senate version that we passed a year ago would have fixed it. It’s the same version we’re passing now.”
“We need to get the problem solved, and if we don’t do that then New Mexico is going to get laughed at and made fun of that we can’t make a damn decision on anything,” said Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, who cosponsored last year’s Senate bill. “We need to put the party politics aside.”
The bill that passed the Republican-led House Wednesday night would create a license for US citizens that complies with Real ID and a driving permit card for undocumented immigrants.
Many lawmakers think an agreement can be reached to settle the differences between the bills. That work would probably begin with a small team of negotiators once the Senate passes its bill, which currently has been assigned to the Senate Committees Committee.
See full video here.
Republican-led House passes Real ID license bill
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at making New Mexico driver’s license laws compliant with the federal Real ID Act, despite strong opposition from Democrats to certain provisions and protests from immigrant rights advocates.After a three-hour debate, House Bill 99, sponsored by Albuquerque Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco, cleared the House on a 39-30 vote, largely along party lines.
By State House-Advances To Senate-Listen
By Tom Trowbridge • 4 hours ago
A Republican-sponsored bill aimed at putting New Mexico in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act has passed in the House. The proposal was approved 39-30 along largely party lines on Wednesday, setting up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate. Under the proposal, New Mexico would begin issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and end the practice of granting state driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Instead, the bill would allow such immigrants to obtain “driver’s permit cards.” The bill has drawn angry responses from immigrant advocates and Democrats who say such cards would open up some immigrants to discrimination and possible deportation. Democratic State Representative Miguel Garcia said during the debate the proposal would discriminate against immigrants living in the country illegally and transform the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department into a deportation “pipeline.” House Bill 99 now moves to the State Senate, which has yet to hold a committee meeting on its own REAL ID fix proposal creating a “two-tier” system.
Listen to the radio segment here.
DRIVER’S LICENSES FOREVER
Thursday, January 28, 2016
It may just go on forever. Last night, as expected, the state House approved driver privilege cards for undocumented New Mexicans, not the restricted licenses Dems favor. The bill goes to the Senate. A deal in the final days? It’s looking dim. Driver’s licenses forever!
House to vote on bill replacing licenses with driving privilege cards
SANTA FE – Legislation that would replace driver’s licenses with driving privilege cards for immigrants who are in the country illegally is headed to a vote – probably Wednesday – on the House floor.
The House Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill just hours after hundreds of immigrant rights supporters rallied at the Capitol to oppose it, calling it discriminatory and punitive.
Minority Democrats tried to slow the progress of the legislation, which was fast-tracked by the House’s GOP leadership.
“What I see now is a train wreck,” said Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, who said the Senate would pass its own, Democratic-backed legislation.
House Bill 99 would create a driver’s license compliant with the federal Real ID law that all New Mexicans who are here legally would have to get.
Immigrants who cannot prove they are legally in the U.S. – who now can get driver’s licenses under a 2003 law – could apply for driving privilege cards that opponents of the bill say would amount to a “scarlet letter.”
Legislation pending in the Democratic-controlled Senate takes a different approach to bringing New Mexico in line with Real ID. Under Senate Bill 174, undocumented immigrants could still get licenses – although not Real ID-compliant – while everyone here legally could choose between that license or a Real ID compliant license.
The vote in the House Judiciary Committee after a sometimes-contentious hearing was 7 Republicans in favor of House Bill 99 and 6 Democrats against it.
It has the backing of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who wants to stop issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants but for the first time supports their getting driver’s privilege cards.
“With this two-tier compromise, not only will we end the dangerous law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, but also provide New Mexico citizens with a secure ID that they can use to board an aircraft without having to buy a passport,” Martinez’s spokesman, Chris Sanchez, said in a statement.
The state has two years before its licenses won’t be good for flying, but some federal installations are already clamping down on using licenses as the sole ID for entry.
Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla said that the main concern of the immigrant community has been being able to drive legally, and that the House bill satisfies that.
“I believe the administration has listened and has made the compromises to move us forward,” she told the Judiciary Committee.
But hundreds of protesters from around the state rallied outside the Capitol, chanting and waving signs such as “No Racismo” and “Keep My Parents Licensed.”
Allen Sanchez, representing the state’s Roman Catholic bishops, said the debate over driver’s licenses has progressed markedly from a few years ago, when the fight was over whether undocumented immigrants should be authorized to drive at all.
“The debate now has gone beyond the privilege of driving. … You’re going to drive,” he told a cheering crowd. “Now let’s do it with dignity.”
According to immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, which organized the rally, about 500 people had registered at a lobbying training session before the Capitol rally.
Democrats said there are ways to crack down on driver’s license fraud without punishing immigrants.
House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said drivers with privilege cards indicating they are in the U.S. illegally could get into trouble at the border checkpoint between Las Cruces and Socorro.
Opponents also objected that the House bill doesn’t give most drivers a choice of whether to get a Real ID-compliant license.
“I kind of prefer you would let the citizen decide what driver’s license they want, not mandate to them. … There are citizens that just don’t want to opt into a federal ID,” Rep. Martinez said.
He urged the committee to slow down, take time to compare the House bill with the Senate bill, and figure out where compromise might be reached.
“I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” he said, adding that the Martinez administration has “moved substantially.”
Critics also said House Bill 99’s provisions – including fingerprinting and annual renewals for driving privilege cards – are so onerous that many immigrants simply wouldn’t get the licenses.
“People are going to drive regardless. … All they need is keys,” said Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque.
Maestas also said the fingerprinting required for driving privilege cards were “requirements only Donald Trump would love.”
People protest at anti-discrimination rally outside of the State Capitol on on Monday, January 25, 2016. About 200 people showed up to support Somos Un Pueblo Unido to fight the Real ID driver’s license House Bill 99. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Posted: Monday, January 25, 2016 8:45 pm | Updated: 10:16 pm, Mon Jan 25, 2016.
Real ID bill keeps moving: After a heated four-hour debate Monday, the state House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance a controversial bill that would make New Mexico driver’s licenses compliant with the federal Real ID Act and allow undocumented immigrants obtain driving privilege cards.
Businesses across the state are nervous over driver’s license impasse
A bill touted as the compromise fix to bring New Mexico driver’s licenses into line with the federal Real ID law — and criticized by opponents as racist and discriminatory —cleared its first legislative hurdle on Thursday.
Backed by House Republicans and GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, it would end driver’s licenses for immigrants who are here illegally and instead offer them driving privilege cards.
All other drivers would have to get licenses that were compliant with the stricter requirements of the federal Real ID law.
House Bill 99 passed the Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee on a 4-3 vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. It goes next to the Judiciary Committee.
Sponsor Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said it was a compromise that would “put this issue to rest.”
But Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, said, “I see nothing in this bill that is a compromise.”
The state’s failure to comply with the Real ID law has led to a crackdown on the use of state driver’s licenses as ID at some federal installations in New Mexico. Starting two years from now, the current licenses would not be sufficient as ID to board airplanes.
Democrats favor a different path to compliance: keep issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants who are not in the country legally, and offer a Real ID-compliant license to other drivers who want one. Legal residents would be eligible for either tier of license under that plan.
The Senate passed a bill last year to do that; similar legislation was introduced Thursday in the Senate.
Business groups backed House Bill 99. Terri Cole of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce called it “a very sensible and compassionate and clear solution to the issue.”
Department of Public Safety Secretary Greg Fouratt said the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, authorized under a 2003 law, has had an unintended consequence: turning licenses into commodities for criminal organizations.
House Bill 99 would eliminate that temptation for criminal groups, he said.
Opponents of House Bill 99 said the cards — which would be a different design and color — would automatically mark immigrants as undocumented and subject them to discrimination or harassment.
Maria Cristina Lopez of Somos Un Pueblo Unido said it was “a slap in the face of hard-working New Mexico immigrant families.”
Taking away licenses would make it harder for immigrants to get jobs, opponents said. Privilege cards would be more complicated because they would require annual renewals, and the cards would have limited usefulness, they argued.
And legal residents of the state would not have a choice of whether to get Real ID compliant licenses, under House Bill 99, opponents objected.
Pacheco said he was aware of that objection and indicated he is open to considering changing it.
“We have problems with this bill because we think it turns the MVD into an immigration department. It’s not practical,” said Allen Sanchez executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Under Pacheco’s bill, driving privilege cards could not be used as ID for official federal purposes and would not be valid for ID purposes outside the state.
Applicants would have to complete a driver’s education course, pass a written and road test, submit fingerprints, and prove they either had lived in New Mexico for at least two years or had filed New Mexico personal income taxes the previous year.
Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, speaks before the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee on Thursday about House Bill 99, which would make state driver’s licenses compliant with the federal Real ID Act while allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driving privilege card. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 11:00 pm | Updated: 12:09 pm, Fri Jan 22, 2016.
A Republican-majority House committee approved a bill Thursday that would make New Mexico driver’s licenses compliant with the federal Real ID Act and allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driving privilege card.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, and Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, passed its first hurdle with a 4-3 vote in the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee after a nearly three-hour debate. It now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.
Both supporters and opponents of the bill spoke passionately about its potential impact during the hearing. Republicans argued it will make licenses compliant with federal requirements and still allow undocumented immigrants to legally drive. Meanwhile, Democrats blamed Republicans for targeting undocumented immigrants under the pretext of trying to comply with federal regulations.
Pacheco and Nuñez’s bill would create a driver’s license system that would allow U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status in the country to receive a license compliant with the Real ID Act. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants would receive a driving privilege card that states it’s not to be used for federal purposes.
As lawmakers discussed the bill, members of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a local immigrant rights organization, sat in the House gallery wearing yellow T-shirts that read, “Choose dignity not discrimination.”
The group members said they oppose the bill because it gives undocumented immigrants a “scarlet letter.” Since undocumented immigrants would be the only segment of the population to have driving privilege cards, they said, this could lead to discrimination by police officers.
“The driving privilege card makes us vulnerable to discrimination and racism,” said Bartolo Canales, who spoke against the bill during a public comment period.
Since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced that New Mexico licenses wouldn’t be recognized for federal purposes, lawmakers have proposed at least four different bills they say will resolve the issue.
The federal government has said that New Mexico residents can use their licenses to board domestic commercial flights until 2018. But Republican lawmakers say that if Democrats don’t join them in approving one of their bills, residents eventually will have to buy a passport to fly on a plane and access federal buildings.
Pacheco’s bill marks a step back from his previous efforts to repeal a state law allowing licenses for undocumented immigrants, without offering the alternative driving privilege cards — efforts supported by Gov. Susana Martinez.
In TV ads and Facebook posts, Martinez recently has said that she supports Pacheco and Nuñez’s bill because it makes the state compliant with the Real ID Act and prohibits immigrants without lawful status in the U.S. from obtaining a driver’s license.
The bill calls for a renewable, one-year driving privilege card. Applicants would have to prove they’ve lived in the state for two years and be fingerprinted by the state Department of Public Safety.
Pacheco told the panel of lawmakers Thursday that after sponsoring several bills to repeal the 2003 immigrant license law, he and the governor came up with this compromise. He said he has heard from undocumented immigrants who say they need licenses to drive to work and drive their U.S.-born children to schools.
Still, immigrant rights advocates oppose the bill because it singles out undocumented immigrants. Police officers who encounter a driver with a privilege card could end up harassing the driver because the card would clearly indicate that he or she is an undocumented immigrant, advocates say.
Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, spoke against the bill, saying Pacheco’s proposal would force her — along with other U.S. citizens — to get a Real ID-compliant license even if she doesn’t want one.
“That’s what is concerning to me,” Caballero said, “because I thought that’s what all of us are all about — having choices.”
Democrats and immigrant rights advocates support a different bill the Senate passed last year when 11 Republicans joined all 24 Democrats. That measure later died in the House of Representatives. It would provide a driver’s license compliant with the federal Real ID Act for U.S. citizens and immigrants with lawful status who want it. A secondary driver’s license would be available for undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens who do not want a Real ID-compliant license.
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, filed a similar bill Thursday.
Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.
Kirtland still accepting New Mexico driver’s licenses
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Kirtland Air Force Base officials said Wednesday that the base is continuing to accept New Mexico driver’s licenses as proof of identification despite the U.S. Department of Defense’s announcement that its facilities will no longer accept New Mexico licenses.
The announcement did not specify when military and federal agencies must stop accepting the licenses, but all three Air Force bases in New Mexico said they would continue to do so until receiving further information from the Defense Department.
Kirtland, which has numerous missions, reportedly including the storage of nuclear munitions, has more than 300 tenants, including Sandia National Laboratories facilities, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
“All federal agencies including DOD must comply with the law regarding the use of Real IDs for official purposes,” Wednesday’s announcement said. “For most DOD installations, an identification card or an installation pass is required to facilitate access. Hence, where an ID or an installation pass is used for physical access, DOD installations are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses or state identification cards from states deemed non-REAL ID compliant.
“DOD policy allows commanders to waive the DOD access control requirements for special situations, circumstances, or emergencies. Therefore, installations may authorize other alternatives to facilitate installation access, such as a graduation ceremony guest list, escorts, etc.”
The public affairs offices of Kirtland and Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico released identical statements Wednesday afternoon:
“The Air Force is reviewing DOD’s informal guidance reference the Interagency Security Committee Real ID Act. We are awaiting final guidance and updating our policies as appropriate. There will be no changes to them at this time. However, installation commanders are aware and are preparing to adjust base access requirements to comply with the Real ID Act as formal guidance is completed.”
A spokesman for Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo said base officials there were also waiting for further Department of Defense guidance.
White Sands Missile Range in south-central New Mexico announced Jan. 11 that it would no longer accept New Mexico driver’s licenses or state-issued identification cards as sole proof of identification for access to the post.
Three days later, Fort Bliss in El Paso said it, too, would stop accepting New Mexico licenses and ID cards for access to the post. White Sands and Fort Bliss are U.S. Army installations. Much of Fort Bliss lies in New Mexico.
Sandia National Laboratories, a Department of Energy facility that employs more than 8,700 people, will continue accepting New Mexico driver’s licenses, but only if they are accompanied by an additional ID such as a Social Security card, original or certified birth certificate, a federally issued U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, a Veterans Health ID card, or other Real ID-compliant identification.
Driver’s licenses issued by four other states – Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Washington state – are also not Real ID-compliant and will not be accepted at federal facilities, the Department of Defense said. It also said licenses from American Samoa would not be accepted.
The 2005 Real ID Act set minimum standards for issuing and producing driver’s licenses or identification cards, aimed at making them more secure. States, for example, must verify an applicant’s identity, do background checks on employees who issue them, and incorporate anti-counterfeit technology into the cards.
The original 2008 deadline has been postponed several times.
Wednesday’s announcement added urgency to the state Legislature’s efforts to agree on a plan to make state driver’s licenses Real ID-compliant.
New Mexico’s latest extension from the federal Department of Homeland Security to comply with Real ID expired in October, and there was a three-month grace period that ended on Jan. 10.
Gov. Susana Martinez and House Republicans are backing a bill that would halt the issuance of driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally, and instead offer them driving privilege cards. Everybody else would have to get Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses.
The House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee is slated to take up the House bill today.
Democrats are supporting a bill similar to one passed by the Senate last year, allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to continue to get licenses – although they would be stamped as not for official federal purposes. New Mexicans who qualify for a Real ID-compliant licenses but don’t want them can also obtain the non-compliant licenses. Some people have objected to Real ID, saying it’s a ruse to implement a national ID.
Homeland Security recently announced that state licenses will continue to be valid for commercial air travel until Jan. 22, 2018.
“Unfortunately, this is the reality we face: The federal government is clamping down on our citizens because Democrats in the Legislature insist on giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” Martinez said in a statement Wednesday
“Our ID isn’t secure, and until we fix it, everyone from contractors, to hunters, and ultimately all citizens who simply want to board an aircraft will be affected,” she said. “We have a good compromise bill that solves the problem and stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and I hope the Senate Democrats will support it.”
Democrats in the Legislature note, however, that the Real ID law allows states to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, as long as those licenses are stamped “Not for official federal purposes” or something similar – a provision their House bill includes.
New Mexico’s Democrats in Congress – U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham – issued a joint statement saying they urge the Legislature to “develop a Real ID-compliant driver’s license that would enable all drivers to drive legally, and provide certainty for workers and contractors who do business on federal facilities.”
They also said they would support the state’s applying for another extension from the Department of Homeland Security.
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Hobbs Republican, said, “Real ID has been the law of the land for over a decade. It includes critical improvements to government-issued IDs that make our nation safer and more secure. I encourage my colleagues in the state Legislature to take action during the current session to resolve this issue once and for all.”
State’s Catholic bishops advocate for immigrant licenses, workers’ rights
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 10:40 pm | Updated: 7:38 am, Thu Jan 21, 2016.
New Mexico’s three Catholic bishops said Wednesday that certain members of their flock question them for engaging in political issues, but they feel morally obligated to speak on important topics facing the state and its most vulnerable residents.
“Immigration, workers’ rights, the sanctity of life, these are the issues,” Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe told about 30 legislators who attended the bishops’ annual prayer breakfast for lawmakers.
And so Wester, along with Bishops Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces and James Wall of Gallup, endorsed continuation of a law that allows undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico to obtain a state driver’s license.
“So many immigrants are fleeing real danger, death, persecution, abject poverty,” Wester said. Immigrants who are working in New Mexico help the state economy, taking back-breaking jobs that Americans won’t do, he said.
“Welcoming the stranger is our mindset,” Wester said.
The bishops say they support a driver’s license bill that the state Senate approved last year 35-5. That measure later died in the House of Representatives. It would provide for a driver’s license compliant with the federal Real ID Act for citizens who want it. A secondary driver’s license would be available for immigrants and U.S. citizens who do not want the Real ID-compliant license.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez tried for the past five years to repeal the law allowing immigrants to receive a driver’s license. This session, though, Martinez says she will support a bill for some immigrants to receive driving privilege cards, a system already in place in Utah and Nevada.
The bishops also support a proposed constitutional amendment to expand funding for early childhood education for infants and children up to age 5. Gains from the state’s $15 billion land grant endowment would help fund early childhood education, but the measure is controversial. Martinez and numerous Democrats in the Legislature oppose it, saying they want to preserve the endowment for generations to come.
Cantú said he fields questions from Catholics about why the bishops are involved in this political debate. He said fighting poverty and helping children get off to a good start in school are topics for everyone, not just legislators at the Capitol.
“These are moral issues, not simply political issues,” Cantú said.
In keeping with their theme of supporting those who are vulnerable or unprotected, the bishops said they favor legislation that would outlaw late-term abortions. “There is no one more defenseless than the child in the womb,” Wall said.
Lastly, the bishops oppose an initiative by Martinez to prohibit labor unions from charging fees to those who decline to join the union, saying it would hurt organizing efforts of workers.
“We support the right to unionize and bargain. It is important to respect the dignity of the worker,” Wester said. The Republican-controlled House is likely to bar compulsory union fees, but the Democrat-controlled Senate probably will reject the bill.
Martinez has not attended the bishops’ prayer breakfast since 2013. That year, now-retired Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan advocated for immigrant driver’s licenses by reading a letter from a dying teenager who said the license law had helped his family.
New Mexico REAL ID fix heads for first test amid tension
Updated 2:29 am, Thursday, January 21, 2016
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Following months of uncertainty and heated partisan exchanges, New Mexico lawmakers will make their first attempt to discuss a bill that would bring the state in line with the REAL ID Act amid pressure from federal agencies and promises from immigrant advocates to fight any proposal they deem unacceptable.
A House committee is scheduled Thursday to take up a GOP proposal that would create a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license and allow immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain driver’s permits. It is one of at least two REAL ID-related proposals lawmakers are expected to tackle this session.
REAL ID Act requirements mandate proof of legal U.S. residency for holders who want to use state IDs for federal purposes.
New Mexico has no such requirement, and allows immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain state’s driver’s licenses.
Previous attempts to repeal the state’s immigrant driver’s license law have been met with charges of racism, angry committee meetings and one lawmaker comparing the REAL ID Act to the Holocaust.
“I hope this time we can all listen to each other with respect and agree to disagree,” said Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, a co-sponsor of the House proposal.
Pacheco will discuss his legislation before the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee. Immigrant advocates are vowing to crowd the meeting with people who they say would be affected by any changes to driver’s license law.
“Anything that doesn’t allow immigrants to keep their driver’s licenses is unacceptable to us,” said Marcela Diaz, executive director of the Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Diaz said her group opposes anything that puts “scarlet letters” on driver’s cards and opens immigrants to discrimination and deportation.
She favors other proposals like one sponsored by Senate Democrats that would create a “two tier” system — granting REAL ID-compliant licenses to residents and noncompliant ones to any resident who wants them. The Senate has not scheduled a committee hearing on that bill yet.
At the start of the legislative session Tuesday, immigrant advocates held signs outside the Capitol comparing Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, to GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump, a candidate who has come under criticism for his comments about Mexican immigrants.
Diaz said Martinez is “pushing an anti-immigrant agenda” because she previously supported repeal and now backs the House bill.
But Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor, remains one of the few elected Republicans who have publicly denounced Trump for his remarks.
The REAL ID issue took even more immediacy in the state this week after the U.S. Defense Department announced military installations would no longer accept New Mexico driver’s licenses as proof of identification for entrance. The U.S. Homeland Security Department also said beginning in 2018, noncompliant IDs won’t be accepted to board commercial flights.
Martinez said she hoped lawmakers could come to a compromise and finally put the issue to rest.
“We have a good compromise bill that solves the problem and stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrant s, and I hope the Senate Democrats will support it,” Martinez said.
DOD Slams Door on NM Licenses Facilities across US will enforce Real ID access
January 20, 2016, 1:00 pm
By Thomas Ragan
New Mexico’s driver’s license problem just went national, at least among those New Mexicans who work at or would like to visit Department of Defense facilities.
The DOD announced today that the state’s driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted at its federal installations across the country, a facet of the Real ID Act that had not been addressed ever since the US Department of Homeland Security granted the Land of Enchantment a two-year extension in late December, allowing New Mexico IDs for use to board airplanes flying within the US.
But it was unclear where federal facilities stood on the matter until now; the act was enacted by Congress in 2005 and was designed to curb terrorism in the wake of 9/11.
Both Sandia National Laboratories and White Sands Missile Range in the southern part of the state a week ago started rejecting the licenses, turning back civilians at their gates, but Los Alamos National Laboratory, a federal facility that falls under the Department of Energy, so far is safe.
The Real ID Act has minimal impact thus far, because most of the employees have already cleared federal background checks with proof of US citizenship and have badges that grant entry, according to the lab’s public affairs department.
The restrictions come as legislators at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe are set to debate a series of bills that would either allow New Mexicans to avoid such chaos by coming into compliance with the Real ID Act right away or give all residents, both undocumented and US citizens, the choice to decide, in a two-tier system in which they could choose between a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or a non-compliant license that would allow carriers to drive but not board airplanes or enter federal facilities.
In her State of the State Address on Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez told legislators that she opposed any bill that would give undocumented residents a license to drive, contending that the distribution of such IDs only lures crime to New Mexico and that it’s a magnet for human trafficking, something pro-immigrant rights groups in Santa Fe say is absurd.
So far, there are 22 states that have complied with the federal law, in which license holders need to provide proof of US citizenship, either through a birth certificate or a Social Security card, along with a place of residency.
New Mexico is one of five states that have been singled out by the federal government for having serious problems with compliance; the others are Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Washington state.
The remainder of the states have been granted extensions to comply with the Real ID Act, and on Jan. 9, the US Department of Homeland Security outlined the time frame in which all the states in the nation will have to meet federal standards, which are designed to curb terrorism. –
See more at: http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-11479-dod-slams-door-on-nm-licenses.html#sthash.4seUW14N.dpuf
Jan. 20 First News: New Mexico House Leaders Determined To Push Immigrant-License Issue This Session
By Tom Trowbridge • KSFR
Jan. 20, 2016
With the New Mexico Legislature in session, the Republican-majority House is pushing to revise a state law that allows immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses. Under the proposal, those immigrants could get driver’s permit cards and residents would get REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses. New Mexico House Majority Leader Nate Gentry says the GOP will strongly push for a revision to the state’s immigrant driver’s license law. Gentry said Tuesday that House Republicans hope to come to an agreement with the Democratic-controlled Senate to make New Mexico compliant under the federal REAL ID Act. Marcela Diaz, executive director of the Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, says the House proposal is “unacceptable.” She said driver’s permit cards opens up immigrants to discrimination. Senate Democrats remain at odds with the governor’s proposal.
Senate Democrats are criticizing criminal justice reforms advocated by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in her State of the State address on Tuesday. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez described on Tuesday the governor’s public safety agenda as pro-incarceration and lacking in funding for rehabilitation and substance-abuse treatment.
Sanchez indicated current DWI laws are sufficient but needed better enforcement. He said the state’s violent crime problem is focused in Albuquerque, where dissatisfaction with the police force runs high. Democratic Senate leaders also say they will oppose the governor’s call for right-to-work legislation and to hold back third-graders who do not read at their grade level.
There will be an effort during this year’s New Mexico Legislative Session to enact reforms on lobbying by the numerous special interests that spend lots of money and time here in Santa Fe working to convince New Mexico lawmakers to enact policies to their pleasing. Las Cruces Representative Jeff Steinborn tells me he believes New Mexicans deserve to know about the money that’s being put into the system to both create and fight policy… and be able to understand all of the mechanisms that are influencing state government.
To hear the full report, click here.
A Manufactured Crisis
Andrea L Mays is an American Studies scholar and a Santa Fean. Her twice-monthly column addresses 20th-century and contemporary culture and politics through the everyday experiences of living in Santa Fe.Write the author: email@example.com
Ringside Seat: Fact-checking the governor on driver’s license issue
Gov. Susana Martinez made an incendiary and false claim Tuesday in opposing the law that allows state residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a New Mexico driver’s license.
“New Mexico has been a target for human traffickers and smugglers seeking to take advantage of our laws,” Martinez said in the part of her State of the State address regarding immigrant driver’s licenses.
Human trafficking has a specific meaning, but Martinez twisted it to try to persuade people they should oppose the driver’s license law.
By definition, human trafficking is “the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.”
Nobody who is enslaved, either for prostitution or labor, is being brought to New Mexico to obtain a driver’s license. People who receive a driver’s license are listed in police databases. Police records are the last place that someone running a human trafficking ring would want to be registered. In addition, those involved in the evil of human trafficking would not allow the women they had enslaved to have driver’s licenses, a means for police to track them and arrest those exploiting them.
Even so, Martinez and her administration at least since 2012 have regularly said that “human trafficking” is one of the evils of the immigrant driver’s license law.
When pressed on what they mean, Martinez’s staff has redefined human trafficking. For instance, Martinez’s Cabinet secretary of taxation and revenue, Demesia Padilla, said immigrants from other states had paid handlers who brought them to New Mexico and provided them with fraudulent residency documents in hopes that they could obtain a driver’s license. Padilla has called this human trafficking.
In order for either an immigrant or a U.S. citizen to receive a New Mexico driver’s license under the existing law, he or she has to be a resident of the state. People who forge residency documents to try to obtain a driver’s license have been prosecuted for fraud, often in federal court.
Martinez also says the driver’s license law is dangerous because people who are not citizens of the United States receive a government-issued license that can be used for identification. That is her strongest argument against the law. But her claim that the licensing law has made the state “a target for human traffickers” is a scare tactic based on a lie.
New Mexico and Washington state were once the only two states that allowed people without proof of immigration status to obtain a driver’s license. Now California, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada and Utah are among the states that either allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license or driving privilege card.
Some of the other states have a driver’s licenses system that is compliant with the Real ID Act, an identification system ordered by the federal government. New Mexico now is not in compliance with the federal law, so there is extra pressure this legislative session on the driver’s license issue.
Martinez until recently advocated an outright repeal of the driver’s license law for immigrants. She has softened her position this session.
“Our compromise is the same as surrounding states,” she said in her speech. “It stops giving licenses to illegal immigrants from around the world, and it ensures our ID is secure. We’ve talked about it year after year. The discussion has been had. It’s time to solve this problem and vote.”
Actually, Martinez now is supporting a law that would allow certain immigrants to receive driving privilege cards. Two Republican members of the state House of Representatives introduced similar bills for driving privilege cards in 2011, but Martinez opposed those measures because she wanted the licensing law repealed.
As for the time being ripe to vote, Martinez ignored that state senators last year voted 35-5 for a bill that would have made the state compliant with the Real ID law and still allowed undocumented immigrants who live in New Mexico to obtain a driver’s license. Sens. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, introduced that bill because they said immigrants are important to the state’s economy, especially its dairies, farms and extraction industries.
The bill by Ingle and Smith died when the House of Representatives did not act on it. House members last year approved a repeal bill Martinez favored. Senators killed it.
A new poll revealed that nearly 70 percent of New Mexicans do not support Gov. Susana Martinez’s proposal to take away driver’s licenses from undocumented immigrants.
According to a survey conducted by Latino Decisions released on Monday, 69 percent of registered voters in New Mexico said immigrants in the country illegally should be able to obtain a license, as long as those licenses cannot be used for federal purposes. On the other hand, only 27 percent of respondents opposed the idea of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
The poll also showed that 56 percent support a two-tier license system that passed the state Senate last year, but was rejected in the House. Just 39 percent opposed that legislation.
Under the proposal, the state would have created two tiers of driver’s licenses, with one license valid for both federal purposes and driving, and the other only able to be used for driving. The proposal also would have made the state compliant with the Real ID law.
However, Martinez and House Republicans opposed the Senate compromise bill. The governor has been campaigning to repeal the immigrant driver’s license law.
At a news conference Monday, Gabriel Sanchez, research director for Latino Decisions, said the poll proves that New Mexicans are more accepting of immigrant-friendly policies.
“Here in New Mexico, unlike some of the narrative you see out there, New Mexicans are not in this punitive mindset toward immigrants,” Sanchez said at the New Mexico American Civil Liberties Union, reports KRQE. “They actually have a very level-headed approach to policy issues related to immigrants and immigration more broadly.”
Likewise, Democratic state Rep. Javier Martinez said the “poll confirms what we’ve known for years, and that is that the governor and their allies in the New Mexico state House are out of the mixture and they are at odds with what most New Mexicans want to do,” reports KOB 4.
“This is what New Mexico is all about,” said Catholic Bishops Conference spokesman Allen Sanchez. “I’m proud to hear that our New Mexicans are coming from a place of compassion, and compassion comes from a formed conscience.”
In response, the spokesman for the Governor’s Office released a statement late Monday afternoon attacking the poll results.
“Left-wing special interest groups might be able to trick a few gullible legislators with slanted poll questions that mischaracterize the issue,” spokesman Michael Lonergan said. “New Mexicans will not be so easily fooled if they try to continue giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, while making New Mexicans jump through special hoops to avoid having to use passports.”
Jan 19, 2016 Pg. C2
Somos un Pueblo Unido, an immigrant right’s group held a press conference to announce findings by polling group Latino Decisions.
Somos un Pueblo Unido commissioned the poll. The group opposes bills that would bar those who are in the country illegally from getting driver’s licenses.
Gabriel Sanchez, a University of New Mexico professor and Latino Decisions pollster said the group’s poll revealed that 56 percent of registered voters in New Mexico are in favor of giving New Mexicans the choice to have a Real ID license or not.
“Here in New Mexico, unlike some of the narrative that you see out there, New Mexicans are not in this punitive mindset towards immigrants,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he believes New Mexicans are mostly in favor of the Senate compromise because of personal relationships with immigrants.
“The majority of the Hispanic registered voters in the state of New Mexico know somebody personally that has been an undocumented immigrant,” Sanchez said.
Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, who was also in attendance said the poll shows that Gov. Susana Martinez and her administration are out of touch with New Mexicans.
“This poll confirms what we’ve knowns for years,” Martinez said. “That is that the governor and her allies in the New Mexico State House are out of the mainstream and they’re at odds with what most New Mexicans want to do with regards to this issue.”
Gov. Martinez has made it well known that she favors a different driver’s license bill that would create a special permit for those without legal documentation. In the past, Martinez has only supported bills that would outright repeal the law that allows those who are in the country illegally to drive legally.
Some Republicans in the House have argued that the Senate compromise bill would not make the state federally compliant with the Real ID Act.
A spokeswoman for the House Republican Caucus tweeted an apparent jab at Somos Un Pueblo Unido on Monday afternoon.
NM Political Report left a voicemail and email for a Martinez spokesman on Monday afternoon. We will add a response if and when we receive one.
Driver’s licenses will likely be a highly discussed topic during the next session, which starts at noon on Tuesday.
Latino Decisions interviewed 500 registered voters in the state. The polling organization contacted them by cell phone, landline or online in both English and Spanish. The survey has a margin of error in +/- 4.4 percent.
Political fight over driver’s licenses pitched heading into session
Posted: January 17, 2016
By Uriel J. Garcia
The New Mexican
In each of the past five regular legislative sessions, Republican lawmakers have tried to repeal the state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. They were acting on Gov. Susana Martinez’s campaign promise, first made in 2010. Each of Martinez’s attempts failed.
This year, House Republicans and the governor have given up on a repeal. Instead, at least some House members want to rewrite the law so that immigrants would receive one-year driving privilege cards instead of licenses that could be valid for up to eight years. The privilege cards would not be recognized for federal purposes, such as entering secure government installations or boarding a domestic flight.
In a television ad paid for by a group friendly to Martinez, the political committee Advance New Mexico Now, the governor says the driver’s license law must be repealed. But then she endorses the bill that would allow driving privilege cards for immigrants. Martinez opposed a similar Republican-sponsored bill for privilege cards in 2011.
If Martinez is unhappy about losing her fight to repeal the law, Democrats are just as displeased with what she is proposing instead. They say the bill for privilege cards would make them so hard to obtain that it would dissuade immigrants from applying. Among other restrictions, the bill would require an applicant to prove to the state Motor Vehicle Division that he or she “has continuously been a resident in New Mexico for the preceding two years.”
Democrats say they favor a compromise closer to the existing law because immigrants are important to the state’s oil, farming and dairy industries. For example, Mexican nationals compose almost the entire crew of harvesters for green chile, the state’s most famous crop. Advocates of driver’s licenses for immigrants say these workers ought to be able to lawfully drive to jobs that keep the state’s economy moving.
Opponents of the Republican bill on driving privilege cards have another concern. The Santa Fe-based immigrant-rights group, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, opposes the measure because it says undocumented immigrants would be the only segment of the population with a privilege card, subjecting them to harassment by police officers.
“It unnecessarily discriminates against the over 90,000 New Mexicans, immigrant families who live, work and pay taxes here, endangers minorities already vulnerable to discrimination and singles them out for deportation by state law enforcement who already report people over to [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” said Marcela Diaz, executive director of the group.
The political fight over driver’s licenses is especially pitched heading into the legislative session.
Martinez and House Republicans for months have said that New Mexico residents would need to buy passports to board domestic flights because state driver’s licenses weren’t compliant with the Real ID Act, a federal identification system. But a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security changed that, at least until 2018. Homeland Security said residents of all 27 states that are not in compliance with the Real ID Act can continue using their state driver’s licenses to board flights for at least another two years.
In an appeal to the public for support, Martinez raised the issue of both air travel and access to military bases through a posting Friday on her Facebook page.
She wrote: “For years, I’ve been fighting to repeal the dangerous law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, it’s been blocked at every turn. Now, New Mexico licenses are no longer accepted as valid identification at various federal facilities, including White Sands and Sandia Labs. If the Legislature blocks reform again, New Mexicans will have to buy passports in order to board domestic flights in 2018.”
Democrats say it is Martinez who has been the obstacle to compromise, even when her fellow Republicans in the Senate worked with them to achieve a solution.
Last year, 11 Republican senators joined all 24 Democrats in approving a bill that would have created two tiers of driver’s licenses and made the state compliant with the Real ID law. One license would have been good for federal purposes and driving; the other just for driving. U.S. citizens who do not want a Real ID-compliant driver’s license could choose to obtain the other license, saving them the time and possible expense of presenting a birth certificate at a motor vehicle office to get a license that comports with the Real ID Act. Immigrants also would receive the license that could not be used for federal identification.
In order to receive a Real ID-compliant license, an applicant would have to visit a state Motor Vehicle Division and show either a birth certificate to prove U.S. citizenship or a federal document proving that person is an immigrant with lawful status in America.
Martinez opposed the Senate compromise bill on two tiers of licenses, but it still cleared that chamber 35-5 before dying in the House of Representatives. In turn, senators killed a Martinez-favored bill to repeal the driver’s license law for immigrants.
One Democrat in the House of Representatives said the Senate measure should be revived as soon as the legislative session starts Tuesday. “The House Republicans have lost all moral authority on this issue. Let’s pass the Senate compromise bill the first week of the session and solve the problem,” said Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque.
This year’s bill for driving privilege cards is being sponsored by Reps. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, and Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch. Other Republicans and one Democrat in the House have alternative bills related to compliance with the Real ID Act.
A bill by Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, would create a Real ID-compliant license or an identification card. Undocumented immigrants or people who don’t want a license compliant with the federal law could obtain an alternative license that wouldn’t be recognized for federal purposes.
Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, has introduced a measure similar to Rehm’s. “I hope we can get it done this year because it has affected people’s lives in New Mexico,” Bandy said. “And the longer we wait, it’s going to affect more people.”
Another bill sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, would create a Real ID-compliant identification card but not deal with driver’s licenses. People who want or need a Real ID-compliant identification card could obtain one by proving they are U.S. citizens or immigrants with lawful status.
Garcia Richard in the last legislative session voted with Republicans to repeal the immigrant driver’s license law. She said her bill this time would stop the politicking over the driver’s license issue while giving New Mexicans a means to have identification that meets requirements of the Real ID law.
“While many of the proposals for Real ID look like a compromise, I don’t think any of them have enough support to pass the Legislature or be signed by the governor. This threatens any true fix of this issue in the upcoming legislative session,” Garcia Richard said.
She said she would continue to vote for the repeal of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented New Mexicans if it came to that. But, she said, combining driver’s licenses with Real ID compliance has created a standoff in which legislation is unacceptable to one side or the other.
Contact Uriel Garcia at 986-3062 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.
State’s most influential lawmakers squaring off ahead of session
January 17, 2016
By Milan Simonich
The New Mexican
New Mexico’s 30-day legislative session doesn’t start until noon Tuesday, but the infighting is underway.
Republicans control the Governor’s Office and the House of Representatives. Democrats are the majority party in the Senate. Rancor between the two legislative chambers dominated last year’s session, and already the most powerful man in the Senate is at odds with the most powerful woman in the state, Gov. Susana Martinez.
“I don’t think the leadership in the Senate is going to be bullied or intimidated by the administration or any of her allies in the House,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said in an interview.
Given the bad feelings, a key question heading into the session is whether confrontation between the House and Senate will destroy any prospect of compromise and cooperation on legislation.
Sanchez, an attorney, gets along well with the Senate minority leader, Republican Stuart Ingle, a farmer from Portales. “He’s vital to the work that gets done in the Senate,” Sanchez said. “He’s calm. He works hard. We recognize that we have philosophical differences, but we also recognize that we each want the state to move forward.”
There’s no such respect between Sanchez and the most outspoken Republican in the Legislature. Rep. Nate Gentry, the House majority leader from Albuquerque, regularly criticized Sanchez last year when Senate committees killed initiatives by Republicans. Gentry did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
At the end of that bitter session last year, the bad feelings between the House and Senate majority leaders were obvious to everyone. “Michael Sanchez failed New Mexico,” Gentry said. He blamed the Democrats’ Senate leader for the defeat of bills that Martinez and House Republicans supported, including a measure to hold back hundreds or thousands of third-graders who scored low on standardized reading tests.
Sparring between Gentry and House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, is also routine.
“Representative Gentry is far more focused on trying to set up Michael Sanchez for defeat in his re-election than he is on legislation,” Egolf said in an interview last week.
Like Ingle, House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, has not engaged in any such personal criticisms. Still, Tripp, Gentry, Sanchez and Egolf will be under a public microscope for the next month. Their parties are naturally divided on many issues, such as whether labor unions should be barred from charging fees to those who decline membership. Republicans want to outlaw compulsory fees as a matter of personal choice. Democrats oppose the idea, saying everyone who shares in the benefits of a union contract should pay a fair share of the negotiating expenses.
The greater question may be whether debates on high-profile bills will be civil, so the state budget and other proposals are not bogged down.
In addition to the five leaders, a handful of other legislators could have pivotal roles this session.
Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, is an attorney and a former prosecutor who has smooth and respectful relationships with Democratic senators. Torraco’s knowledge of the criminal justice system may be especially important in how senators react to a series of bills from Republican House members who want to lengthen criminal sentences.
Aside from Sanchez, the most influential state senator may be John Arthur Smith, a Democrat from Deming, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. Smith, at 74, has a streak of independence that can confound members of both major parties.
Smith opposes the proposed constitutional amendment by some fellow Democrats to use gains from the state’s $15 billion land grant endowment to expand early childhood education.
But Smith, in a 180-degree reversal, turned against Martinez last year on her attempt to repeal the state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Smith joined Ingle in sponsoring a bill that would let undocumented immigrants continue to receive a New Mexico driver’s license while still making the state compliant with the Real ID Act, a federal identification law.
Smith and Ingle are so influential that most Senate Republicans — 11 of 16 — rejected Martinez’s push for the repeal. Children of immigrants rushed to Smith to shower him with hugs.
This year, Martinez and House Republicans have backed off their attempt to repeal the driver’s license law. Instead, they are offering a bill that would create driving privilege cards for immigrants, though Democrats say the conditions are so restrictive that the proposal is unworkable. For instance, immigrants who want a privilege card would have to prove they have lived in New Mexico for at least two years before they could even apply.
In the House of Representatives, three freshmen could have significant roles in setting a tone for the session.
Democratic Rep. Patricio Ruiloba is a retired Albuquerque police officer who supports driver’s licenses for immigrants as a matter of public safety. Ruiloba, 48, said the more state residents with driver’s licenses, the easier a job police have in sorting out who’s behind the wheel of a car they’ve pulled over.
Ruiloba said he and numerous other police officers also are skeptical of a bill by Gentry and Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, to amend the state Hate Crimes Act to include law enforcement officers to the list of protected classes. “Based on the information I have on it now, I would not support it,” Ruiloba said. Bill cosponsor Pacheco also is a retired police officer.
Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, a Republican from a swing district in Albuquerque, showed a willingness to work with rival Democrats on a high-profile bill last session and will revive the initiative this year. She teamed with Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, on a bill for solar energy tax credits. Martinez vetoed it without explanation, but Maestas Barnes and Stewart are proposing the measure again.
The third freshman to watch is Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, who has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to automatically register all eligible voters.
“The traditional paper-based registration systems and deadlines we have now are no longer necessary due to technological advances. They undermine our democratic process,” Rep. Martinez said. If the House and Senate approve his bill, the measure would go before the state’s voters in November.
Legislators, governor gear up for driver’s license fight
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
SANTA FE – Republican-backed legislation that would end driver’s licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally – providing them instead with more limited driving privilege cards – was filed Monday, setting the stage for a clash in the 30-day session that begins in a week.
GOP Gov. Susana Martinez and the Republican-led state House are promoting the plan as a way to bring New Mexico into compliance with the stricter identification requirements of the federal Real ID law, and it was filed even as a couple of federal installations began clamping down on the use of state licenses as ID.
As of Monday, New Mexico licenses alone were no longer considered sufficient identification at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range and Sandia National Laboratories. The state’s Air Force bases were still accepting the licenses, pending further word from the Department of Defense.
The Legislature’s Democrats, who control the Senate, are expected to offer a competing proposal in the session: Keep issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants who are here illegally but make clear the licenses can’t be used for official federal purposes.
The Senate passed a similar proposal last year with support from most Republicans in that chamber.
Under both the House and Senate proposals, a tier of Real ID-compliant licenses would be created for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who can prove their lawful status.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says New Mexicans will need another form of ID such as a passport to board commercial aircraft beginning two years from now if the state still has not complied with Real ID.
“The Democrats in the Legislature have ignored this problem for far too long, and now we are beginning to suffer the consequences,” said Michael Lonergan, a spokesman for Martinez.
The governor for the past five years has unsuccessfully pressed the Legislature to repeal the 2003 law that allows the issuance of licenses regardless of immigration status, which she says has made the state a magnet for criminals and which she has repeatedly labeled “dangerous.”
This year she is endorsing House Bill 99, filed in advance of the session by Republican Reps. Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque and Andy Nuñez of Hatch, repealing the 2003 language and creating a driving privilege card.
It’s based on a Utah law that Martinez said in 2011 she opposed. Lonergan said the “fact that the governor has worked out a compromise similar to the Utah model is just another example of her willingness to find common ground on this issue.”
House Republicans said in a news release that House Bill 99 “is an effort to compromise with Democrats and get the law off the books by providing undocumented immigrants with a driving privilege card, and not a state driver’s license.”
House Democrats countered that the GOP should get on board with the Senate’s proposal as the compromise, calling House Bill 99 “another example of Gov. Martinez and allies playing political football with this issue.”
Under the new Pacheco bill, the driving privilege card – which would be good for one year – would be issued only to those who cannot prove their lawful immigration status. That’s a significant difference from the Senate proposal, which would make the second tier of non-Real ID-compliant licenses available to immigrants who are here illegally but also to anyone else who qualifies for a Real ID license but doesn’t want one.
House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said giving U.S. citizens the choice of whether to get a Real ID license is key to the passage of a bill in the Legislature.
“Without this option, all citizens will be forced to stand in line for hours at the MVD just to renew their current licenses,” because they would be required to have Real ID-compliant licenses, he said.
Applicants for the privilege card would have to complete a driver’s education course, pass a written and road test, submit fingerprints, and prove either that they have lived in New Mexico for at least two years or that they have filed New Mexico personal incomes taxes the previous year.
The card could not be used as ID for official federal purposes – a requirement under the Real ID Act – and would not be valid for ID purposes outside the state, according to the legislation.
The state’s highest-profile immigrants’ rights group, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, immediately criticized the Pacheco bill as “senseless and reprehensible,” saying it discriminates against immigrant families.
A card with a different color and design that can be carried only by immigrants who are here illegally “endangers minorities already vulnerable to discrimination and singles them out for deportation by state law enforcement who already report people to ICE,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the organization said.
House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said in a statement that White Sands Missile Range’s announcement that New Mexico licenses are no longer a valid single form of identification is evidence that the Legislature “must pass a law to stop giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.”
The White Sands announcement said: “The Real ID Act of 2005 … prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official use driver licenses and identity cards from states unless the Department of Homeland Security determines the state meets set standards.”
At Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, a spokeswoman said Monday that the base is “waiting for guidance from the DoD (Department of Defense) for implementation of Real ID.”
A spokesman at Holloman Air Force Base said the base anticipates “there will be some updated guidance in the future,” after which the base would hope to advertise the changes before implementing them.
There was no immediate response from Cannon Air Force Base.
Beginning Monday, visitors to Sandia National Laboratories who wanted to use a current New Mexico driver’s license to get a visitor’s badge also had to provide an additional ID such as a Social Security card, an original or certified birth certificate, a passport, or other federally issued ID such as military ID or a Veterans Health ID card. There was no change for those who already had valid Sandia badges.
Le quitarán licencias de conducir a indocumentados en Nuevo México
Por Agencia EFE 01/11/2016
A partir de hoy las licencias de Nuevo México no cumplen con los requisitos del Real ID, por lo que algunos edificios federales han comenzado a dejar de aceptarlas. (Archivo)
Buscan que los inmigrantes indocumentados sólo reciban “permisos de conducir”.
Legisladores republicanos en Nuevo México presentaron hoy oficialmente la propuesta HB99, una iniciativa de ley que eliminaría las licencias de conducir para inmigrantes indocumentados con el fin de reemplazarlas con un “permiso de conducir”.Los legisladores aseguran que la propuesta tiene el propósito de cumplir con los requisitos del Real ID, lo que ha provocado las críticas de los defensores de los inmigrantes.
“La práctica de dar licencias de conducir a inmigrantes indocumentados es peligrosa. Los residentes de Nuevo México exigen que terminemos con ella”, dijo el legislador republicano Paul Pacheco en un comunicado.El representante del distrito 23 indicó que en repetidas ocasiones los legisladores han tratado de terminar con esta ley y cumplir con los requerimientos del Real ID, pero los demócratas han “matado” cada uno de sus intentos.Aseguró que esta propuesta es un esfuerzo por lograr un compromiso entre republicanos y demócratas.
Bajo esta iniciativa, que también es impulsada por el legislador republicano Andy Nuñez, el estado de Nuevo México comenzaría a emitir licencias de conducir que cumplen con las regulaciones del Real ID, mientras que los inmigrantes indocumentados solo recibirían “permisos de conducir”Para poder tener estos permisos, deberán cumplir con un curso de conducción, pasar un examen, tomar huellas digitales y demostrar que han vivido en el estado por lo menos dos años y haber presentado sus impuestos estatales. El permiso de conducir solos sería vigente por un año.”Es horrible que la gobernadora Martínez y sus aliados en la legislatura estén utilizando el tema del Real ID para impulsar su agenda antiinmigrante”, manifestó a Efe Marcela Díaz, directora del grupo Somos Un Pueblo Unido, con base en Santa Fe, en Nuevo México.
El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) informó el pasado viernes de que dio una extensión de dos años a los 26 estados, entre ellos a Nuevo México, que todavía incumplen con los requisitos de la ley federal Real ID, que obliga a emitir licencias de conducir que cumplan con varios requisitos de seguridad.La nueva fecha límite es el 22 de enero de 2018, y si el estado no cumple con el Real ID, las licencias de conducir emitidas por Nuevo México no serán aceptadas como identificación para abordar aviones comerciales en los aeropuertos nacionales, entre otros casos.A pesar de la extensión, a partir de hoy las licencias de Nuevo México no cumplen con los requisitos del Real ID, por lo que algunos edificios federales han comenzado a dejar de aceptarlas.White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), un campo de cohetes del ejército de Estados Unidos, anunció hoy que ya no aceptará las licencias como una sola forma de identificación.
Por su parte, Sandia Labs índico a su vez que aquellos que presenten licencias de Nuevo México deberán presentar adicionalmente una segunda forma de identificación.La portavoz de Sandia Labs, Lindsey Kibler, dijo hoy a Efe que los visitantes deberán presentar además de su licencia otra identificación como es su tarjeta de Seguro Social, acta de nacimiento o tarjeta de registro de votante.
En 2005, el Congreso aprobó la ley federal del Real ID, que pretende crear identificaciones más difíciles de falsificar y que cumplan con requisitos más estrictos para verificar la identidad del solicitante, incluyendo su estatus migratorio.
La gobernadora de Nuevo México ha declarado públicamente que una de las principales razones por las que Nuevo México no cumple con los requisitos del Real ID es porque una ley aprobada en 2003 otorga licencias de conducir a inmigrantes indocumentados.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido calcula que aproximadamente 90.000 indocumentados tienen licencias de conducir en ese estado.”Quieren obligar a todos los residentes de Nuevo México a regresar al Departamento de Motores y Vehículos (DMV) y obtener una nueva licencia que cumpla con el Real Id”, lamentó Díaz.
Por su parte, legisladores demócratas apoyan una propuesta que mantendría las licencias de conducir para los inmigrantes indocumentados y daría la opción de obtener licencias que cumplen con los requisitos del Real ID para aquellos que lo requieran y lo soliciten.
La gobernadora Martínez defendió su postura recientemente ante miembros de la Cámara de Comercio de Alburquerque, a quienes aseguró que resolver este problema será una de sus prioridades durante la próxima sesión legislativa.”Por los últimos cinco años sabemos que tenemos que emitir una licencia de conducir que cumpla con los requisitos federales”, aseguró Martínez en su discurso.
La mandataria republicana dijo apoyar un sistema dual similar al implementado en Utah donde se emiten licencias de conducir para sus residentes y “permisos de manejo” para aquellos que no pueden comprobar su estatus migratorio en el país. Estos permisos solo sirven para cumplir con las regulaciones de tránsito y no para abordar aviones o entrar a edificios federales.
“Cualquier forma de discriminación no tiene lugar en Nuevo México. Utilizar el Real Id para señalar a los inmigrantes va en contra de nuestros valores y pone a nuestro estado en un peligroso camino”, dijo en declaraciones enviadas a Efe la directora ejecutiva de Equality New Mexico, Amber Royster.
“Esperamos que nuestros legisladores hagan lo correcto y no apoyen una licencia de conducir que institucionalice la discriminación”, indicó Royster.Martínez, la primera gobernadora latina del país y quien recientemente fue elegida como presidenta de la Asociación de Gobernadores Republicanos, ha intentado sin éxito revocar la ley que otorga licencias de conducir a los indocumentados desde que llegó al cargo en 2011.
Democratic leader says different REAL ID rules in New Mexico result of GOP ‘unwilling to compromise.’ Democratic House Minority Leader Brian Egolf says a Senate proposal creating a “two-tier” system would resolve current confusion in the state
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The latest developments on immigrant driver’s license debate in New Mexico (all times local):
Democratic House Minority Leader Brian Egolf says New Mexico is seeing varying REAL ID requirements because Republicans were “unwilling to compromise” on a fix last year.
The Santa Fe Democrat said Monday that a Senate proposal creating a “two-tier” system could resolve current confusion over making New Mexico compliant under the federal REAL ID Act.
The bill will allow state residents to get REAL ID compliant licenses. Others, including immigrants in the country illegally, would have had the option to keep non-REAL ID compliant identifications.
A Republican plan would create REAL ID compliant licenses and allow immigrants to apply for “driving privilege cards.”
White Sands Missile Range and Sandia Labs announced on Monday it will no longer accept just a New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification from visitors.
An immigrant rights group says new REAL ID restrictions in the state have nothing to do with a New Mexico law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses.
Marcela Diaz, executive director of the Santa Fe-based Somos Un Pueblo, said Monday that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez had a chance last year to support a Senate bill that would have avoided the confusion.
That bill would have allowed state residents to get REAL ID compliant licenses. Others, including immigrants in the country illegally, would have had the option to keep non-REAL ID compliant identifications.
White Sands Missile Range and Sandia Labs announced on Monday it will no longer accept just a New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification from visitors.
New Mexico Republican House Speaker Don Tripp says new REAL ID restrictions in the state show that Democrats need to compromise on solution next session.
Tripp said Monday that Democratic state lawmakers must to agree to revise a law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses.
White Sands Missile Range announced on Monday it will no longer accept New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification from visitors. Sandia Labs also announced it will no longer accept just a New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification.
REAL ID Act requirements mandate proof of legal U.S. residency for holders who want to use state IDs for certain federal purposes.
The GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate have dueling “two-tier” proposals.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s office says Democrats are to blame for new REAL ID restrictions that limit access to Sandia Labs and White Sands Missile Range.
Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan said Monday that New Mexicans are being punished by the federal government because Democratic state lawmakers refuse to repeal a law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses.
White Sands Missile Range announced on Monday it will no longer accept New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification from visitors. Sandia Labs has announced it will no longer accept just a New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification.
Lonergan says the problem could have been avoided if state lawmakers had repealed the immigrant license law.
Sandia Labs has announced it will no longer accept just a New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification from visitors.
Labs spokeswoman Lindsey Kibler said effective Monday all New Mexico’s driver’s licenses will be noncompliant under the federal REAL ID act and can’t be used as the sole identification to enter.
Kibler says New Mexico IDs will be accepted for a Sandia visitor badge as long as they are accompanied by an additional ID, like a Social Security card or birth certificate.
Sandia Labs joined White Sands Missile Range on Monday in no longer accepting New Mexico IDs after a Sunday deadline by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
REAL ID Act requirements mandate proof of legal U.S. residency for holders who want to use state IDs for certain federal purposes.
White Sands Missile Range has announced it will no longer accept New Mexico driver’s license as a form of identification from visitors.
Range spokesman Erin Dorrance said the base stopped accepting New Mexico IDs on Monday because they aren’t in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act.
The move comes after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to give New Mexico an extension on complying with tougher rules that require proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses and IDs to be valid for some federal purposes.
REAL ID Act requirements mandate proof of legal U.S. residency for holders who want to use state IDs to access certain areas of federal buildings and, eventually, board commercial flights.
Lawmakers are expected this month to work on revising New Mexico’s law.
Ringside Seat: Real ID controversy is smoke screen for Martinez
In the deep freeze of January, Gov. Susana Martinez is feeling so much heat that she has resorted to diversionary tactics.
She hopes to create enough confusion about New Mexico driver’s licenses and the rules for domestic airline travel that she can shift attention to her enemies. Her strategy is transparent, even if her administration is not. By staging a frontal assault on her political opponents, Martinez hopes to reduce the scrutiny she’s under.
Feds: New Mexico driver’s license OK for air travel for two more years
The New Mexican
One of New Mexico’s longest-running and nastiest political fights took another turn Friday when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that people boarding domestic flights can use their state driver’s licenses as identification for at least another two years.
Since the federal government denied New Mexico an extension to comply with the federal Real ID Act in October, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has said New Mexicans might have to get passports to fly on commercial airplanes within the U.S.
Letter to the Editor
Posted: Saturday, January 9, 2016
By H. McIlvaine Lewis
We don’t all need a “Real ID”, and the Legislature should not force us to get one (“Compromise sought on two-tiered IDs,” Jan. 5).
Largely missing in the media back and forth regarding the federal Real ID controversy is the choice that must be made as to whether getting a Real ID-compliant driver’s license will be mandatory or optional for those who qualify. At least five other states already offer both federally qualifying Real ID licenses and (optionally, for those who don’t want or may not qualify for a Real ID license) noncompliant licenses. That “second tier,” noncompliant license is expressly permitted by the federal Real ID Act.
H. McIlvaine Lewis is a 28-year resident of Santa Fe.
Dem leader faults New Mexico governor for REAL ID ‘panic’
Russell Contreras and Susan Montoya Bryan,
Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan said Friday the federal government confirmed in its announcement that state residents will need passports for air travel unless Democrats agree to revise state law.
Her office says a New Mexico law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses is partly responsible for New Mexico not being REAL ID compliant.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Friday that New Mexico passengers could continue using their current state IDs until Jan. 22, 2018.After that, New Mexico residents would need a REAL ID compliance license or a passport to board a commercial flight.___
After that, New Mexico residents would need a REAL ID compliance license to board a commercial flight.
That announcement gives New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and state lawmakers breathing room amid worries federal officials could have announced air travel changes this year.
Leaders of the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate are expected next week to begin work revising a state law that makes New Mexico REAL ID compliant.
NM driver’s license? You can still fly for 2 more years
Groups Blast Proposal For Driver’s Permit Card Not Mandated by Real ID
By Somos Un Pueblo Unido • Jan 7, 2016
Commentary: Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico’s statewide immigrant’s rights organization, denounced recent announcements by Governor Martinez and her anti-immigrant allies in the House to introduce a proposal that would unnecessarily take away drivers’ licenses from thousands of New Mexico’s immigrant families and force them to carry a discriminatory driver’s permit.
“Instead of defending New Mexicans against the unprecedented tactics of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to target and bully our state into complying with the Real ID Act, this Governor prefers to play ugly politics and exploit the issue to discriminate against immigrant families,” said Marcela Diaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “Taking away drivers’ licenses from 90,000 New Mexicans, immigrants who have lived, worked, and paid taxes here, and then force them to carry a driver’s permit marked with their immigration status goes against everything New Mexico stands for. It’s unnecessary and shameful.”
Even though the majority of Senate Republicans worked with Democrats to craft a REAL ID solution that would not stigmatize immigrant families, Republican House Speaker Don Tripp from Socorro County joined the Governor in calling for a discriminatory driver’s permit.
“I depend on my driver’s license every day to drive to my job at the dairy. I also used my license to register my three U.S. citizen children at school and open an account at the bank,” said Edgar Chavez, a dairy worker and member of Somos Veguita in Socorro County, an affiliate of Somos. “Requiring me to carry a driver’s card I couldn’t use as an ID and that is marked with my immigration status makes no sense at all. It could lead to my deportation. I could lose my job. Even more terrifying, I might not be able to come home to my family. I urge my representative, Speaker Don Tripp, to think of families like mine in the upcoming session and stand up against the politics of hate. He should follow Senator Ingle’s lead and support a sensible compromise so we can finally put this issue behind us.”
Late last year, the embattled New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla failed to obtain an extension from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for New Mexico to comply with the federal Real ID Act, resulting in a flood of misinformation and a specious attempt by Governor Martinez to blame immigrants for the state’s non-compliance.
Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans came together during the 2015 legislative session to support a bipartisan compromise that would have made New Mexico compliant with the Real ID Act without discriminating against immigrants or forcing them to drive without a license. This legislation was sponsored by Senator Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) and Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Deming), but was publicly rejected by Governor Martinez.
More responses from various statewide civil rights, faith and labor organizations:
“Any form of discrimination has absolutely no place in New Mexico. Using the Real ID Act that singles out immigrants goes against our values and puts our state on a dangerous path. We sincerely hope that other law makers do the right thing, stand up to the politics of hate, and support a driver’s license policy that doesn’t institutionalize discrimination.”
– Amber Royster, executive director for Equality New Mexico
“It is unconscionable and wanton for Republican House Speaker Don Tripp and Representative Paul Pacheco to needlessly propose such a discriminatory measure as driving permit cards for thousands of immigrant families across our state. These members of our churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are not smugglers nor human traffickers but fathers, mothers, workers and leaders. We pray our legislators stand up to this animosity choosing the moral path of a driver’s license policy that doesn’t leave migrants vulnerable, separate and unequal.”
– Justin Remer-Thamert, Program Director for the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice
“Driver’s licenses for our friends and neighbors who are undocumented allow people living, working and contributing greatly to our communities to go about their daily lives. A driving permit card, however, threatens to stigmatize people and drive a wedge between them and local law enforcement, who may see the permits during traffic stops. Branding people based on their nationality or immigration status goes against our values as New Mexicans. That kind of discrimination has no place in our state.”
-Suki Halevi, New Mexico Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League
“In our public schools across New Mexico, we teach our students to treat people of all backgrounds the same, regardless of race, gender, orientation, or immigration status. Our children cannot be expected to practice justice and fairness when the actions of some lawmakers contradict this teaching. Forcing immigrants to carry a lesser, discriminatory driver’s permit based solely on immigration status is unjust and prejudicial.”
– Stephanie Ly, President, American Federation of Teachers New Mexico
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker’s rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell. Somos spearheaded a campaign in 2003 with law enforcement officials, victims rights agencies, and faith and civil rights groups to require qualified undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses, obtain insurance, and register their vehicles.
Republican House Speaker Don Tripp, responding to a letter that Democratic leaders in the Legislature had sent earlier in the day, suggested a compromise Monday on the politically charged issue of New Mexico driver’s licenses conforming with the federal Real ID Act.
But one key Democrat criticized parts of Tripp’s proposed compromise as “punitive and pointless,” and the exchange indicates both sides remain in a standoff over the license issue just a week before parts of the federal law are set to take effect in the state.
State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez — D-Belen, along with House Minority Leader Brian Egolf of Santa Fe and Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces — delivered a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday saying she should work with Democratic lawmakers to pass a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would make New Mexico driver’s licenses compliant with the federal law. The letter, also addressed to Tripp, urges the Republicans to agree to a compromise by Jan. 10 that could help secure an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to comply with Real ID.
At issue is a 2003 state law that allows immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, regardless of whether they have legal status to live in the U.S. To meet Real ID requirements, a license for a resident without lawful status must indicate that it’s not federally approved identification.
Tripp, R-Socorro, proposed in his letter a “framework for legislation” that would create a two-tiered license system “with a Real ID-compliant driver’s license for citizens and those in our country with lawful immigration status, and establishing a driving privilege card for those who cannot prove lawful immigration status.”
Under Tripp’s proposal, to get a driver’s privilege card, a person would have to submit fingerprints and a waiver to perform a criminal background check by the FBI and Homeland Security. The applicant also would have to provide evidence that he or she has lived in the state for at least two years and has filed personal income tax in the state for the year preceding the application.
“By establishing a system more comparable to surrounding states, we can remove the incentive for smugglers and human traffickers to target our state and bring New Mexico into compliance with the Real ID Act, while still allowing members of our community to safely operate a motor vehicle and purchase insurance, even when they cannot demonstrate legal residence,” Tripp’s letter said.
Egolf, however, blasted parts of Tripp’s proposal as “punitive and pointless.” He stressed that last year the state Senate passed a compromise bill that House Democrats support. That measure, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, would have established two types of licenses, one being Real ID-compliant. The Senate approved the bill 35-5.
“The Senate did exactly what the people of New Mexico want,” Egolf said. He said he tried to introduce that bill as an amendment to another driver’s license bill in the House, but House Republicans voted it down.
A Martinez spokesman also responded to the Democrats’ letter Monday night. “The Governor has worked every year to resolve this issue and has compromised many times along the way,” Michael Lonergan said in an email. “And, just like every year, we welcome serious collaboration with Democrat lawmakers. The Governor is currently working with Rep. Paul Pacheco on a two-tier compromise that stops giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and ensures we have a secure ID.”
Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, backs a license system that, like Tripp’s proposal, would require immigrants without legal status to obtain driving privilege cards. The measure is modeled after a license system in Utah. Immigrant advocates and many Democrats have fiercely opposed the privilege card system.
Homeland Security in October denied New Mexico another extension to make its driver’s licenses compliant with Real ID, which means the licenses will not be accepted as identification at certain federal facilities after Jan. 10. But the state’s Democratic congressional delegation met with Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last month, and he agreed to get the state an extension if the governor and the Legislature could agree on a measure to resolve the issue before Jan. 10.
The next session of the Legislature doesn’t start until Jan. 19.
One of the biggest concerns to arise over the state’s noncompliance with Real ID is that residents will need passports to board a domestic flight. But the federal government repeatedly has said this is not the case. Homeland Security has said that if it decides to enforce this part of the law, it will give the state a four-month notice.
NM Dem delegation: State can get REAL ID extension
ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico could likely get a temporary reprieve from federal REAL ID enforcement if the governor and lawmakers can agree on a specific proposal to revise state law, the state’s Democratic congressional delegation said Wednesday.
U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham in saying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has assured them that New Mexico would get the extension after the governor’s office informs federal authorities about a plan.
In a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez sent last week, members of the delegation said they recently met with Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas who assured them the department would delay enforcement if New Mexico took steps before Jan. 10.
Udall spokeswoman Jennifer Talhelm said Martinez and state lawmakers have to tell Homeland Security officials they’ve agreed on a specific proposal and promise to pass it.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security declined to give New Mexico an extension on complying with tougher federal requirements that require proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses and IDs to be valid for some federal purposes, including boarding commercial aircraft.
Military bases in New Mexico said state driver’s licenses will still be accepted after Jan. 10. Homeland Security officials said the state will be given a 120-day notice before new air travel rules will be enforced.
House Republicans and Martinez have previously tried to repeal a state immigrant driver’s license law.
Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for Martinez, said the governor has worked year after year to get the state in compliance with federal rules.
“The feds are clearly expecting action, and that action must reflect what the people of New Mexico want — which is to stop the dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” Sanchez said.
State lawmakers are expected in January to begin revising a state law that now allows immigrants — regardless of status — to obtain driver’s licenses.
But the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate have dueling proposals.
The Senate version would allow New Mexico residents to apply for Real ID compliant licenses and for non-complaint ones. Recipients of compliant license would have to provide proof a citizenship and residence, while immigrants regardless of legal status and other residents could seek non-complaint licenses.
The House version would require that all licenses be Real ID compliant but allow immigrants to apply for driver’s permits cards, similar to a law in Utah. That version is opposed by the Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, which said the proposal would open up immigrants to discrimination and possible deportation.
Sanchez said Martinez is working with Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, the sponsor of the House version.