Published: 7:52 pm, Thu. Feb. 25th, 2016Updated: 7:51 pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced this afternoon that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted New Mexico an immediate extension of REAL ID compliance deadlines.
The extension will allow the state to implement a law passed last week by the New Mexico Legislature.
The lawmakers urged the DHS in a letter last week to grant the extension in order to ensure New Mexicans can resume access to federal facilities.
“REAL ID has caused unnecessary confusion and uncertainty for many New Mexicans, and this extension from the DHS means we can finally move out of limbo,” said Udall. “Families now have a much-deserved certainty that the state’s belated compliance with the REAL ID law will not inhibit travel plans or their ability to visit federal facilities.
“Now it’s time to get back to work on policies that will grow New Mexico’s economy, create good jobs, and improve child wellbeing.”
“I’m pleased DHS acted quickly to grant an extension for New Mexico to comply with REAL ID,” said Heinrich. “Our military bases and other federal facilities are important economic drivers in our state. Now, many New Mexicans will have the certainty they need to go to work every day or travel without an undue burden.”
In December 2015, New Mexico’s Democratic delegation held a joint meeting with DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas to secure a commitment that New Mexico could still obtain an extension for REAL ID enforcement if Gov. Susana Martinez and the legislature could agree on a bill that would ensure compliance.
On Jan. 8, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson clarified that even if the legislature could not reach an agreement on a compliance bill, New Mexicans would still be able to fly on commercial airlines with New Mexico licenses until 2018.
New Mexico licenses became unacceptable for entry to military installations and other federal facilities last month, but the state’s new REAL ID-compliant licensing system will reverse that action once it has gone into effect.