In new Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez is continuing to work against undocumented immigrants. The governor is fighting against the state issuing driver’s licenses to the undocumented, and has now asked 10,000 foreign nationals to verify their New Mexico residency.
Immigrants from China, Mexico, and Poland have been arrested on suspicion of obtaining New Mexico driver’s licenses by falsifying documents, and Gov. Martinez says it is proof that New Mexico’s licenses are not secure.
“We are one of only two states that offer driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and our state has become a destination spot for people from other states and around the world who wish to receive an official government-issued ID care,” the governor said.
The Republican governor tried to outlaw licenses for undocumented immigrants, and failed last winter, but has stated that she will revive the issue this fall.
A number of Democrats, including State Senator Michael Sanchez and State Rep. Antonio Lujan, oppose Martinez’s attempts to take driver’s licenses away from undocumented immigrants.
“I guess what she’s trying to do is keep this driver’s license issue as a wedge issue,” said Sanchez, the Democrats’ floor leader.
Lujan added that regardless of Martinez’s claims, the licensing program for the immigrants has made the public safer, since many foreigners drive to work, and identification is required to purchase car insurance. By allowing them to have driver’s licenses, they allow more people on the road to be insured.
In her arguments against driver’s licenses for the undocumented, Martinez has claimed that the 2003 licensing system, established under former-Gov. Bill Richardson, has made New Mexico the target of fraud rings as far away as Chicago. She says that undocumented immigrants unable to obtain driver’s licenses in other states take advantage of New Mexico’s system.
An average of 85,000 foreign nationals have New Mexico driver’s licenses, and account for 5 percent of the 1.6 million people with licenses from the state.
Tuesday, the state’s Motor Vehicle Division began writing 10,000 of the foreign nationals with New Mexico licenses to meet for an in-person appointment to verify they live in the state. The 10,000 were chosen randomly, and if chosen, the people have 30 days to make the appointment.
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