SPRINGFIELD - While Illinois seems to be heading for issuing drivers' licenses to residents who've entered America illegally, one of the other two states with a similar policy - New Mexico - is backing away. Or at the very least, they're wondering if their state policy will coordinate with a new federal law that kicks in next year.
New Mexico's policy of giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses could soon come back to bite the state's law-abiding residents when stringent new federal requirements for IDs take effect in January, the governor is warning.
With a key provision of the federal Real ID Act set to kick in on Jan. 15, Gov. Susana Martinez claims there will be no way to differentiate between state IDs issued to residents who furnish federally-required documentation and those issued to illegal immigrants based on less stringent requirements. Martinez is predicting the federal government will have no choice come Jan. 15, 2013, but to no longer recognize her state's licenses as valid identification at airport ticket counters or for entry into federal buildings or complexes such as the state's large Kirtland and Holloman Air Force.
What's about to happen with the licenses also used for ID purposes will be a bureaucratic nightmare, Gov Martinez says.
“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,” Martinez said after sending an Oct. 10 letter of inquiry about the act to Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano. “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.”
Doesn't the same federal law affect Illinois?