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Lawmakers Urge O'Malley To Hold Off On "Real ID"

A dozen Democratic lawmakers representing the "New Americans" caucus in Annapolis met with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) yesterday to urge him not to move ahead with legislation to require immigrants to prove they are legal residents before they can drive.

The change would reverse a long-standing policy that makes Maryland one of four states that allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. Many states now require a "legal presence" to comply with the federal security law known as "Real ID," which calls for a uniform license like a national identity card.

Anyone who does not have a license that complies with the new law would not be able to board commercial airplanes or enter federal buildings.

O'Malley administration officials have said Maryland must act this year to comply with a Dec. 31 deadline. But yesterday, the lawmakers pleaded with him to hold off, saying they have high hopes the Obama administration will scale back the law's provisions.

They said they will sponsor a bill to develop a two-tier system instead that would mandate separate licenses to those here legally and those who are not. Those with the more restrictive license could drive but not be able to board planes, for example.

"Real ID is going to change," said Ana Sol Gutierrez(D-Montgomery), one of the General Assembly's leading advocates for the rights of immigrants. "We expect the Obama administration to delay the impact. We're saying, don't use this as an immigration tool."

By Lisa Rein  |  January 27, 2009; 2:39 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Lisa Rein  
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"Anyone who does not have a license that complies with the new law would not be able to board commercial airplanes or enter federal buildings."

This is flat-out not true. The REAL-ID Act says that a non-compliant license (or any other government-issued ID card that does not comply with the REAL-ID Act) cannot be used as identification to get through a federal security checkpoint. If a person has a compliant ID (such as a passport or military ID), they can still visit federal buildings and fly on airplanes, even if their drivers license is not compliant.

Posted by: Lies_and_Statistics | January 28, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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