Travelers: REAL-ID extension not a solution

Posted at: 12/20/2012 10:15 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It has been a burden hanging over New Mexicans for years. The pressure to get a passport before the federal REAL-ID Act goes into effect Jan. 15. But the Department of Homeland Security extended that deadline Thursday for at least another six months.

A valid New Mexico driver's license or identification card will still be enough to get residents through security at the Sunport or any U.S. airport next year.

But the move is only a temporary deferment meaning the pressure is on state lawmakers to make some real changes to its laws.

Currently only 13 states meet the REAL-ID Act's security standards, and New Mexico isn't among them since proof of citizenship is not required to get a driver's license in the state. But travelers also understand the extension is not solving the problem.

"I really think that the system really needs to be looked at, it needs to be changed, to accommodate the citizens that live here in New Mexico," one traveler told KOB 4.

The governor's office issued the following statement in response to the announcement: "Governor Martinez does believe this gives New Mexico an important opportunity to ensure that our driver's license is a secure document and is pleased that the travel plans of New Mexicans will not be immediately disrupted."

Martinez has pushed to repeal the law that allows licenses to be issued regardless of citizenship, and the effort to do so will be top priority again during the upcoming legislative session.