Governor writes letter she hopes will influence legislative races
Pirtle, the 27-year-old farmer trying to oust state Sen. Tim Jennings in
the fall election, has made New Mexico driver licenses a predominant
Republican Pirtle favors Gov. Susana Martinez's push to repeal a 2003 law that enables illegal immigrants to obtain driver licenses, provided they have proof of identity and of residency in New Mexico.
Jennings, 62, a Democrat and the Senate president, has voted to keep the licensing law, but add provisions to tighten it and add penalties for fraud.
Martinez, in a not-so-subtle strike against many Democrats seeking re-election to legislative seats, announced today that she had written a letter to the U.S. Homeland Security director that zeroes in on the licensing law.
Here it is:
October 10, 2012
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Napolitano,
I am writing to you regarding New Mexico’s compliance status with the REAL ID Act.
In accordance with REAL ID regulations, states must meet the minimum standards of the REAL ID Act by January 15, 2013. Within the regulations, documentation of legal status and Social Security number must be validated before a state may legally be deemed to have issued a secure driver’s license or identification card. As you are probably aware, New Mexico is not compliant with this provision as set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). I am writing to confirm previously expressed intentions by the federal government to not extend this implementation deadline any further.
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.
In addition to confirming that the Act’s implementation deadline will remain January 15, 2013, as communicated in your department’s August 28th FY 12 report to Congress, I am also writing to ask for any clarification you can provide about the implications of a state-issued ID that is not deemed secure by the federal government.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to receiving a prompt response to the above inquiries.
Governor of New Mexico
-- So, are Jennings and other Democrats in contested races vulnerable because of this single issue?
We shall know the answer next month, but Pirtle hopes to make hay over Jennings' aversion to a repeal of the licensing law.
Clear already is that Jennings, a senator since 1979, is in a fight this election year, unlike so many others in which he could coast.
GROUPS SAY GOVERNOR AN ALARMIST FOR POLITICAL GAIN
The ACLU and the immigrant group Somos Un Pueblo Unido say Gov. Susana Martinez hopes to mislead public.
Here is a key part of their reaction to her letter:
Today, Governor Martinez released a statement informing the public that the state practice of issuing drivers’ licenses to undocumented residents could prevent New Mexico licenses from complying with REAL ID standards by the deadline of January 2013. This statement is misleading at best.
REAL ID is dead. Americans have already rejected large parts of this ill-conceived attempt to unite state drivers’ licenses into a national ID card. Thirty-six states — including New Mexico — currently do not fully comply with this unpopular, unfunded mandate. In fact, 25 states have passed resolutions rejecting REAL ID, and in 15 states (more than 20% of the U.S. population), it is illegal for state officials to comply with the law.