The Senate Minority leader and a key conservative Democrat are eyeing a compromise on the issue of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Capitol Report New Mexico says that Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, is working with Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, on a Utah-style two-tiered licensing system.
The gist of such a proposal is that there would be two different kinds of licenses; one that was good for proving that the holder is able to drive but cannot be used for identification purposes and another that would be able to be used for identification for, example, entering federal buildings or getting on airplanes.
Martinez reiterated that fact to Capitol Report New Mexico:
“What we are open to is doing what New Mexicans want me to do,” Martinez said. “People say (rescinding the law) is controversial. It really isn’t. Most people, 70 percent say they want the law repealed. How is that controversial. That’s No. 1. No. 2, (the US Department of Homeland Security) already decided Utah does not comply with the Real ID Act.”
So far, only 13 of 50 states are in compliance with REAL ID. And it isn’t just drivers licenses; the licensing process itself would need to be overhauled to comply with the federal REAL ID guidelines.
More states have said they will not institute REAL ID than have complied.
In the past two sessions, bills to repeal drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants have passed the House of Representatives — but the Senate has balked at an outright repeal and has instead passed legislation that would strengthen protections against and penalties for fraud.
In Martinez’s State of the State address, Martinez again called for the repeal. The call received the biggest standing ovation of the speech among Republicans — an even larger ovation than for cutting corporate income taxes or education reform.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, who has control over when bills come to the floor in the Senate, said the Democratic caucus would oppose an outright repeal.