ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The ranking New Mexico House Democrat says he's not ready to support a GOP-sponsored proposal creating a "two-tier" driver's license system modeled after Utah.
House Minority Leader Brian Egolf of Santa Fe said this week that he needs to see details on a plan to grant state driving privilege cards for immigrants — even those suspected of living in the country illegally.
After trying repeatedly to repeal a state law that grants New Mexico driver's licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque said he will sponsor the bill to end a stalemate between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate.
Pacheco told The Associated Press earlier this month that he decided to look at the Utah model after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently denied New Mexico an extension from tougher federal requirements on state driver's licenses.
Federal officials said New Mexico IDs eventually won't be valid for some federal purposes, including boarding a commercial flight.
Egolf said for now he supports the Senate's "two-tier" proposal that lets immigrants keep driver's licenses regardless of status — a plan that Democrats and immigrant advocacy groups are pressuring Republicans to support.
"This is an issue that's fixable," Egolf said.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who has pushed for repeal since taking office in 2010, said she believe state lawmakers weren't too far apart on a compromise to get New Mexico compliant under the federal REAL ID Act. However, she has not said publicly if she would support either of the two-tier system proposals.
New restrictions that will require federally approved IDs to access certain parts of federal buildings are scheduled to begin in January. That means New Mexico licenses won't be accepted at certain federal facilities beginning next year.
Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said a decision on commercial air travel will be announced by the end of this year.
She said the department had no timetable on when those changes could be adopted.
Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contributed to this report.