New Mexico Looks to Stop Issuing Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants

April 17, 2015 4:26 am
by David Jakeman

Immigrants living throughout New Mexico are on the lookout to see what happens in the New Mexico state legislature. A bill is on the table that would reverse the state’s practice of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. The bill has already been passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It remains to be seen whether or not it will make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Importance of Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants

It is interesting to see New Mexico second guess issuing driver’s licenses, having been one of the first states to do so. Albuquerque immigration lawyers understand how important such a practice has been for their clients. Being able to have a driver’s license makes it easier for immigrants to find jobs, especially if driving a car is necessary to hold the job.
Having a driver’s license can also be very important for actually being able to get to a job, since the United States is generally not set up in a way that allows for people to move around easily without the help of a car. This challenge can be especially prevalent when trying to get around the Western part of the United States, where the wide open spaces are quite often the norm rather than the exception.

Critics and Supporters of Immigrant Driver’s Licenses

Many people in New Mexico have come to question giving driver’s licenses to immigrants. They cite the number of people who come to New Mexico to get licenses but have no intention of staying in the state. Some argue that the licenses help those looking to trafficking humans, aiding in illicit activities. They also believe that issuing driver’s licenses makes fraud easier in the state. They say that although the previous bill was supposed to lower the number of uninsured drivers on the road, that hasn’t seemed to happen in any significant way.

Supporters of maintaining past license issuance policies argue that it helps keep the state safer, making sure that everyone on the road has been tested and trained in order to be able to drive. They also believe that making sure that everyone has a license makes it safer for police officers. They argue that a person who does not have a license might work harder to evade a police officer trying to pull them over, and they may also offer greater resistance in other ways as well. 1

Ultimately what is needed is comprehensive immigration reform. Immigration lawyers from Albuquerque to Santa Fe could tell you that one of the easiest ways of solving this problem is for Washington to figure out a path to citizenship. As far as New Mexico is concerned, it looks unlikely that the New Mexico Senate will pass on the bill from the House of Representatives. For many undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico, that is a good thing.

1 http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_27503609/drivers-licenses-immigrants-spurs-debate-new-mexico