ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico denounced the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) heavy-handed attempt to force national identity cards on New Mexicans in the form of REAL ID, an extremely unpopular and unfunded mandate tacked onto a “must-pass” Tsunami relief bill and passed by Congress with no debate in 2005. The REAL ID Act of 2005 aims to turn state drivers licenses into a national identity card and impose numerous new burdens on citizens and state governments, all while doing little to protect against terrorism. On October 28, 2015, the DHS announced that it had denied New Mexico’s request for an implementation extension, potentially barring New Mexicans from using state drivers licenses to board aircraft or enter federal buildings in the future.
“The American people have hated REAL ID from its inception, and for good reason,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “It is a federal overreach that strips rights from the states, tramples civil liberties, puts citizens’ personal information at risk, while doing little to make us safer. The federal government’s denial of New Mexico’s requested extension should be recognized for what it is: a bullying tactic meant to force New Mexico into accepting a national ID card that nobody wants or needs.”
A large portion of the country has been in open rebellion against REAL ID since its passage ten years ago. Fifteen states passed statues prohibiting implementation of REAL ID, and 33 states, including New Mexico, are still not fully compliant with REAL ID.
“If New Mexico is to give in to the federal government’s threats, let us at least do so in a way that would give New Mexicans the freedom to choose whether they wish to participate in a national ID card system,” said Simonson. “The two tiered driver’s license system passed by the New Mexico State Senate would give New Mexicans the chance to opt out of receiving a REAL ID compliant card and avoid placing their personal info into a massive federal database.”