Group sues over NM license checks


A leading advocacy group filed a lawsuit Wednesday  to halt Gov. Susana Martinez’s so-called “Residency Certification Program.”

The program was never authorized, ratified, or even considered by the New Mexico Legislature, which creates the law and policy of New Mexico, the group MALDEF said in a news release. Further, the program constitutes a gross abuse of the power granted to the Motor Vehicle Division by the Legislature and is unconstitutional because it targets and affects primarily Latinos in New Mexico.

At the core of the controversy is New Mexico’s policy of issuing driver’s licenses to foreign nationals who are in the US without documentation.  Martinez, a Republican, this summer ordered 10,000 New Mexico licensees to appear in person to verify that they actually live in the state.

The governor has said the ease of obtaining licenses in New Mexico has attracted undocumented immigrants from across the US to come to the state for licenses though they don’t actually live in New Mexico. Washington is the only other state that issues licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Her effort to repeal the law during this year’s legislative session failed. The governor wants to try again to repeal the law during the upcoming special session of the Legislature.




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