Governor Susana Martinez has renewed her fight against a law that allows undocumented immigrants in New Mexico to receive driver’s licenses.
“I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” she said this week on her Facebook page.
The announcement from the Republican, who unsuccessfully pushed for repeal in 2011, comes as more undocumented immigrants are gaining driving privileges. Only New Mexico and Washington issue them unrestricted licenses, but Utah allows those who have lived in the state for more than six months to apply for a “driving privilege card.” A law passed this month in Illinois grants temporary licenses.
Meanwhile, as Stateline has reported, more than a dozen states will offer licenses to young immigrants who qualify for President Obama’s “deferred action” program, which allows some undocumented students, veterans and recent high-school and college graduates to stay in the country.
Proponents say that trend has opened up work opportunities to undocumented immigrants, while increasing road safety by keeping unlicensed and uninsured drivers off the road – those who haven’t had eye or road tests.
But critics of the policy, including Martinez, say it rewards illegal behavior. Additionally, the governor has argued the law has made New Mexico increasingly attractive to illegal immigrants, who come for licenses but don’t stay.