Yesterday, the New Mexico Legislature ended its 2012 session, leaving intact the 2003 state law that allows driver’s licenses to be issued to individuals regardless of immigration status. This marks the third unsuccessful attempt by Republican Governor Susana Martinez to repeal the state’s driver’s license law. HB103, the bill backed by Martinez, passed the House earlier this month but failed to make it through the Senate. An alternative Senate bill, SB235, which would have tightened residency requirements but not repealed the 2003 law, passed the Senate. Governor Martinez, however, vowed to veto that Senate bill. New Mexico and Washington are the only states that issue driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status (Utah issues a driving certificate that can’t be used for identification).
Republican Governor Susana Martinez has repeatedly tried (and failed) to repeal the state’s nearly decade old driver’s license law. Last year, a state district judge halted on constitutional grounds Gov. Martinez’s costly campaign to “certify” the driver’s licenses of foreign nationals. A spokesman for Gov. Martinez claims the current law “leads to fraud, human trafficking, organized crime and significant security concerns.” Supporters of the law, however, say the current policy aids cooperation between immigrant communities and local police as well as reduces the number of unlicensed drivers.