For the past five years, Governor Susana Martinez has pushed a bill that would not allow undocumented immigrants to be issued a drivers license, in order to comply with the Federal Real ID Act of 2005.
The debate over whether or not illegal immigrants should be able to drive has been a topic of discussion since Martinez was elected into office in 2010. The Department of Homeland Security announced this year that if the bill was not passed, a New Mexico drivers license would not be sufficient when boarding commercial airlines for domestic flights beginning in January 2018.
Martinez came to a compromise that offered significant changes in legislation, but still allows immigrants legal access to the roads. The original bill would require 90,000 current immigrants with driver’s licenses to be fingerprinted to receive a driving authorization card instead. With the revised bill, only new immigrants trying to get driving privileges will be fingerprinted.
With this bill, immigrants are granted driving authorization cards. The cards are not intended for federal purposes. Immigrant Rights groups have been fighting this issue, and with the revisions made to the bill, they feel they have won. New Mexicans will not need passports to board domestic flights, and will be in agreement with the Real ID Act.