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A new twist in illegal license debate

The debate over drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants in Maryland may not be over.

Lawmakers rushed earlier this month to put aside their differences and adopt new rules that require applicants for new licenses to prove they are in the country legally, starting June 1. The biggest debate was over what to do about illegal immigrants who already have licenses. The General Assembly decided that licenses that fall into that category would expire by 2015.

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Lawmakers said they had to adopt a compromise to meet a deadline of the federal Real ID Act.

But now CNN is reporting that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal the contentious law.

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According to CNN, "Napolitano, former governor of Arizona, said she has met with governors of both parties recently 'to look at a way to repeal Real ID.' She said she wants to substitute the federal law with 'something else that pivots off of the driver's license but accomplishes some of the same goals. And we hope to be able to announce something on that fairly soon.' "

If that's the case, Maryland's license law could be a veto target of Gov. Martin O'Malley. And lawmakers may also be willing to revisit the issue when they meet again next year. There were so many opponents to the compromise plan – both from the left and from the right – that the debate could easily continue.

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