New Mexico and Washington are the only two states in the country that allow illegal immigrants to attain the same driver’s licenses granted to legal U.S. citizen residing in the states. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican who campaigned on being against the current license policy, has amped up her attack. The policy was adopted in 2003 in the hopes that it would decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on New Mexico’s roads. Whether it has achieved this goal is doubtful—New Mexico still has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country. However, it has attracted illegal immigrants from across the country to the state, many of whom never actually reside in New Mexico before attaining a license. Fraudulent license makers are posting ads in Spanish-speaking newspapers as far away as New York offering New Mexico driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. [Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on immigration.]
To show the degree of the fraud problem, the governor sent 10,000 letters to foreigners who have New Mexican licenses threatening to cancel their licenses unless they appear in front of government officials and prove their residency. Critics of the administration argue that Martinez’s efforts are discriminatory and overblown, as about half of the 2,000 or so who so far have appeared in front of government auditors were able to prove their residency. Supporters of the current license policy, many of them members of the Democratic state legislature, assert that the fears of New Mexico licenses getting into dangerous hands—terrorists, drug bosses or the like—are exaggerated, and that revoking the licenses force illegal immigrants to live further in the shadows.
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Previously: Can the Rebels in Libya Be Trusted?