Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Valencia, Bernalillo) has expressed deep concerns to several federal officials about misinformation given to the public about the impact of REAL ID. In an attempt to clarify the misrepresentations that have been “reported” regarding driver’s licenses, a top official from Department of Homeland Security sent a letter to the Albuquerque Journal.
“Right now, no one needs to adjust travel plans, rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel. And when you do, we will make sure you have plenty of notice,” wrote Philip A. McNamara, Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Homeland Security. “DHS is in the process of scheduling plans for Real ID enforcement at airports and will ensure that the traveling public has ample notice – at least 120 days – before any changes are made that might affect their travel.”
During the 2015 legislative session, the Senate passed (35-5) a bipartisan bill that would have made New Mexico REAL ID compliant, however it failed to pass the House of Representatives. Senator Sanchez is confident a REAL ID compliant bill will be introduced and passed again in the Senate during the upcoming 2016 session to make New Mexico compliant with federal law.
Senator Sanchez believes it is important that the public has information based on fact and not unfounded fears and hysteria regarding any upcoming travel plans. “I would encourage members of the public and media to contact my Santa Fe office or visit the following linkshttp://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs if they have any questions about REAL ID,” said Senator Sanchez. “New Mexicans deserve accurate information about this policy issue, and I am committed to supplying accurate information to New Mexicans and the press.”
By Philip A. McNamara / Assistant Secretary For Intergovernmental Affairs, Department Of Homeland Security
In response to the Nov. 18 editorial in the Journal (“NM law means you need passport, terrorists don’t”) the Department of Homeland Security would like to highlight the key facts about the Real ID Act.
While New Mexico is not yet in compliance with the Real ID Act, here are facts New Mexicans should know:
- The Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The act established minimum security standards for driver’s licenses and prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting these standards.
- The Real ID Act places the responsibility for action on the state, not residents of the state.
The state of New Mexico has not yet taken the necessary steps to comply with the Real ID Act or receive an extension on compliance.
- Right now, no one needs to adjust travel plans, rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel. And when you do, we will make sure you have plenty of notice.
- If traveling by air, residents from any state are still able to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (Passport or passport card, global entry cards, U.S. military IDs, airline- or airport-issued IDs, federally recognized, and tribal-issued photo IDs. See the full list on the TSA website.)
DHS is in the process of scheduling plans for Real ID enforcement at airports and will ensure that the traveling public has ample notice – at least 120 days – before any changes are made that might affect their travel.
Starting Jan. 10, New Mexico residents will need to show an alternative form of ID when visiting federal facilities, nuclear power plants and military bases. If planning a visit to one of these facilities, you should contact the agency in charge to confirm what alternative forms of identification are accepted or what procedures the facility allows for persons without acceptable identification.
The Department of Homeland Security is committed to working with the state of New Mexico to support its becoming compliant with the Real ID Act standards and to grant an extension upon taking the necessary steps.
Overall, states have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to make driver’s licenses and other identification more secure. Every state has a more secure driver’s license today than before the passage of the act.