- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - With only a week left in the New Mexico Legislative session, a key Senate Democrat said Thursday he still is negotiating with a Republican colleague to resolve a conflict on a bill that would make New Mexico compliant under with federal law on identification cards.

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said senators still have not solved a dispute on whether to require immigrants in the country illegally to submit fingerprints before getting a driver’s authorization card. But he believes a compromise will come before the Senate Finance Committee on Friday or Saturday, said Smith, who chairs that panel.

A bipartisan proposal, co-sponsored by Smith, moving through New Mexico Senate would make the state compliant under the federal REAL ID Act by mandating various requirements to get a New Mexico driver’s license. The REAL ID Act requires proof of legal U.S. residency for those who want to use state identification to access certain areas of federal facilities. New Mexico has no such requirement and allows immigrants to get state driver’s licenses regardless of legal status.

After the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced last year that New Mexico wouldn’t get an extension from the tougher requirements, some military installations, such as White Sands Missile Range, stopped accepting state driver’s licenses for entrance.

Under the bipartisan bill, immigrants living in the country illegally would be allowed to apply for a driver’s authorization card but could no longer get a New Mexico driver’s license.

However, House Republicans say the bill doesn’t require fingerprints from immigrants and the absence of that provision might kill the bill. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has vowed to veto any measure that doesn’t include requirements to fingerprint immigrants seeking driver’s cards.

Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group, has come out strongly against the fingerprint provision. On Thursday, the group helped organize a forum where anti-domestic violence activists spoke against the fingerprint provision. They said victims of domestic violence and sexual assault would be reluctant to come forward if they were required to give fingerprints.

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