Susana’s letter to Homeland Security and what it means
Print This Post
But the letter sent on Wednesday (Oct. 10) is also a political move aimed at trying to put a few notable state Democrats on the hot seat as Election Day nears.
Here’s the deal:
Part of the rationale for Gov. Martinez’s insistence that state legislators repeal the New Mexico law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants is that should the current law remain on the books, New Mexico citizens theoretically could see their driver’s licenses rejected when boarding a plane because a federal law called the Real ID Act called for enhanced security and identification after the 9/11 terror attacks. Instead, New Mexicans would need a passport.
In the letter to Secretary Napolitano, Martinez asks the Homeland Security boss to confirm that the Real ID Act will go into effect January 15 — in little more than three months.
From the letter:
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.
Martinez and supporters of her bills to repeal the law have brought this up before and defenders of the current law have responded by saying that the Real ID Act was supposed to go into effect back in 2008 but each time the deadline comes, it gets extended.
But the political reality is that by writing the letter, the Martinez administration focuses on Democrats who have opposed repealing the New Mexico driver’s license law or have supported a compromise bill – such as the one sponsored by Democrat and Senate pro tem Tim Jennings, who just so happens to be locked in a heated re-election race against a Republican strongly in favor of repealing the law.
New Mexico is one of just two states (Washington state being the other) that allows driver’s licenses to be granted to illegal immigrants.
Politically, repealing the law is a winner for Martinez since polls repeatedly show that New Mexico voters want to dump it. Last month, a poll released by the Albuquerque Journal showed 71 percent in favor of changing the law.
In a news release accompanying the letter, Martinez is quoted saying, “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 New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union responded with its own news release, saying the governor’s claims are “misleading at best”:
Just as we saw in 2008, 2009, and then 2011—all previous deadlines for compliance—the Department of Homeland Security will almost surely kick the can further down the road and extend the deadline again. The government cannot afford to ban 20 percent of the total population from entering a federal building or boarding a plane back home from winter holidays.
Today’s statement from the Governor is a scare tactic meant to advance her agenda of dismantling New Mexico’s drivers’ license law.
I’ve got a feeling that Secretary Napolitano, a Democrat in the Obama administration, won’t be sending a response by Election Day.
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Albuquerque Journal, American Civil Liberties Union, Department of Homeland Security, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, Janet Napolitano, Real ID Act, Susana Martinez, Tim Jennings