Today, Governor Susana Martinez sent a letter to the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security on the subject of REAL ID Act implementation, which is set to occur on January 15, 2013. States face an October 15th deadline to communicate with the federal government about their intention to comply with the REAL ID Act. Currently, New Mexico's driver's license is not deemed to be a federally secure document under the REAL ID Act, given that New Mexico is one of only two states that issues driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's August 28th report to Congress, "The January 15, 2013 deadline for meeting the standards of the REAL ID Act remains in effect. As of that date, federal agencies will not be able to accept driver's licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that have not been determined to be compliant with the Act by the
Secretary of Homeland Security."
In her letter, Governor Martinez asks for a description of the various ramifications that New Mexicans would face as a result of this non-compliance, including no longer being able to use a driver's license to board an airplane or enter federal buildings and national laboratories, which employ thousands of New Mexicans. In expressing New Mexico's intention to comply with the
Act, the Governor further makes it clear that she will again push to repeal the law that provides driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in the upcoming legislative session, in order to ensure that New Mexico's driver's license is a document that does not undermine our national security and is deemed valid for use by New Mexicans when interacting with federal agencies.
"Unfortunately, New Mexico's practice of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants not only poses a significant and well-documented public safety threat, it also undermines the validity and security of every New Mexico driver's license,' said Governor Martinez. "It's deeply concerning that New Mexicans who work at our labs, get on an airplane, or need to show identification at any other federal facility will no longer be able to use their driver's license to do so. This is not just an inconvenience; it is an incredible burden on our citizens and our businesses, and on our ability to be competitive with our neighboring states."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's August 28th report to Congress says, "Congress enacted the REAL ID Act of 2005 in response to the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for more secure standards for identification.
The Act included the following provisions:
 Prohibits federal agencies from accepting state-issued driver's licenses or identification cards unless the state is determined by the Secretary to meet minimum security standards;
 Establishes minimum security standards for the:
 Information and features that appear on the face of the card
 Physical security of cards to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, and duplication of the documents for a fraudulent purpose
 Presentation, and verification with the issuing source, of information an applicant provides, including evidence that the applicant is a U.S. citizen or is lawfully present
 Physical security of production and storage facilities and for materials from which REAL ID cards are produced "
The full text of the governor's letter to Secretary Napolitano is below.
October 10, 2012
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Napolitano,
I am writing to you regarding New Mexico's compliance status with the REAL ID Act. In accordance with REAL ID regulations, states must meet the minimum standards of the REAL ID Act by January 15, 2013. Within the regulations, documentation of legal status and Social Security number must be validated before a state may legally be deemed to have issued a secure driver's license or identification card. As you are probably aware, New Mexico is not compliant with this provision as set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
I am writing to confirm previously expressed intentions by the federal government to not extend this implementation deadline any further.
It is my understanding that only a driver's license and identification card issued by a state that has received a compliance determination by DHS may be accepted for official federal purposes, including entrance to our national labs and other federal facilities, as well as boarding airplanes. I support the goals of the Real ID Act and its role in promoting our national security. I will once again be asking our legislature to bring our driver's license laws into full compliance during our upcoming legislative session.
In addition to confirming that the Act's implementation deadline will remain January 15, 2013, as communicated in your department's August 28th FY 12 report to Congress, I am also writing to ask for any clarification you can provide about the implications of a state-issued ID that is not deemed secure by the federal government.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to receiving a prompt response to the above inquiries.
Governor of New Mexico