Senators seek clarity for N.M. travelers

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36 states including New Mexico are not in compliance with the REAL ID Act

By Special to the Monitor

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall have asked the Department of Homeland Security to provide New Mexicans with assurances that their travel plans early in 2010 will not be disrupted by a federal law governing drivers’ licenses.  

In 2005, Congress passed legislation – called the REAL ID Act – requiring states to tighten requirements related the issuance of drivers’ licenses because they are used as a standard form of identification for a variety of federal purposes, including air travel. 

While the senators support strengthening the standards governing IDs, they are concerned about a National Governors Association estimate that as many as 36 states — including New Mexico — will not be able to meet the Dec. 31, 2009, deadline to comply with the law.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the senators said enforcing the Dec. 31 deadline would cause a significant disruption in air travel. 

They also pointed out that New Mexico has asked for an extension of the deadline. 

In their letter, the senators urged DHS to quickly clarify its plans regarding the implementation of the REAL ID Act:

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