NEW MEXICO - New Mexico residents may need more than just a driver's license to enter Federal Government facilities. New Mexico is one of the eleven states that permits illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license.
In 2005 the Federal Government passed the Real ID Act which established specific standards, procedures, and requirements for issuing a driver's license. The act authorizes states to provide illegal immigrants with licenses if they are distinctly different from a regular license. New Mexico has been issuing the same license, which makes it hard to distinguish legal residents from illegal residents.
State Senator, Stuart Ingle, said this issue is a major problem for the state because it will affect the jobs of many residents. "We don't want people loosing their jobs," Ingle said. "We want people to come here and be able to work."
Currently, residents in the state who want a license do not have to show proof of citizenship to get one. They show proof of residents and bills in their name.
State Senator Pat Woods said the state issues illegal immigrants a license to protect citizens. "The reason we're doing this is to cover everybody else's health and welfare by having some insurance in place in case there's a wreck, in case there's bodily injury," Woods said. He said if immigrants do not have a license they cannot get insurance and if drivers do not have insurance it can severely affect other drivers.
Since the act passed New Mexico has been granted several extensions for compliance; however, their latest request has been denied. Officials believe if this issue is not solved residents may have problems boarding airplanes too.
Beginning January 10, driver's licenses will no longer be accepted at federal government facilities, and residents will not be allowed to enter those facilities at that time if this issue is not addressed.