New Mexico has a drivers’ license problem, and they brought it upon themselves. Belatedly it occurred to the state, and to Gov. Susana Martinez in particular, that huge numbers of illegal immigrants might be acquiring licenses and then riding off into the sunset with those bright shiny state-issued photo IDs giving them access to all the attendant privileges in NM and anyplace else they might go.
Yep, NM and two other states, Washington and Utah, still don’t require proof of citizenship and residency to get a license. And in this day and age, particularly in a border state, that’s an open invitation to exploitation.
To close this loophole, Gov. Martinez announced a residency verification plan wherein all foreign nationals holding NM licenses had to report to the DMV in person and show proof of residency. Oddly enough, 30% of the 10,000 notices sent out were returned as “undeliverable.”
A district court judge blocked the program Wednesday until a recently filed lawsuit can be settled. The suit, filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, contends that the license certification program is illegal because it discriminates against one segment of the population – foreign nationals.
I’m no lawyer, but even I would assume you can’t legally single out one segment of the population and subject only them to special recertification of their currently valid licenses. And I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone in possible violation of U.S. immigration laws to show up on command and give authorities a second chance to “verify” their status.
It seems obvious to me that NM should just pass a law saying that effective immediately, nobody can obtain or renew a NM license without proof of residency and citizenship. Unless they’ve been issuing lifetime licenses, that should solve the problem.