An immigrants' rights group says the federal "Real ID" act is a "smokescreen" for anti-immigrant legislation.
Senate Bill 518—which, along with its House twin HB 78, has been the subject of heated controversy in the immigrants' rights debate—would require immigrants to produce visas or passports in order to be issued driver's licenses. That requirement would bring New Mexico driver's licenses in line with the Real ID Act, which recognizes only IDs showing the holder's legal status, according to sponsor state Sen. John Ryan, R-Bernalillo.
"The issue of the Social Security number and providing licenses to illegal aliens would meet one of the largest requirements under the Real ID Act, and that's the one that needs to occur via the statute," Ryan tells SFR.
But Marcela Diaz, director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, says SB 518 doesn't get the state closer to compliance with Real ID because, under Real ID, states can continue to also issue non-Real ID-compliant licenses.
"This law keeps getting promoted that [otherwise] we're not going to be in compliance with Real ID," Diaz says. "It's just a smokescreen.