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New Mexico's Senate has endorsed a bill that would bring New Mexico driver's licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID requirements


SANTA FE, New Mexico — New Mexico's Senate approved a bill Saturday that would bring New Mexico driver's licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID requirements.

The recently revised bill would require immigrants in the country illegally to submit fingerprints before getting new state driving authorization cards. Those fingerprints would be given to the FBI for background checks.

House approval still is needed for the bill to reach the desk of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who is eager to sign the measure into law. In a statement on Saturday, she praised lawmakers in both parties for working on the compromise.

Under the proposal, residents could apply for licenses that are compliant with the federal REAL ID Act or just driving authorization cards. The bill would allow immigrants to obtain the driving cards.

State lawmakers have been under immense pressure to pass a REAL ID compliant law ever since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced last year that New Mexico wouldn't get an extension from the tougher REAL ID requirements. After that announcement, some military installations, such as White Sands Missile Range, stopped accepting state driver's licenses for entrance.

Immigrant advocacy groups have called the bill a victory because immigrant families will still have driving privileges.

And immigrants in the country illegally who currently have New Mexico driver's licenses would be exempted from the fingerprint requirements.

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