Illegal Immigrants Fight To Keep Driver’s License
Empowered by the president’s recent halt in deportations, the influential open borders movement plans to stop one of the last states to offer illegal immigrants diver’s licenses from killing the practice.Lawmakers in New Mexico are scheduled to address the heated issue in a special session this week, igniting fury among immigrant rights organizations that accuse them of catering to “fringe right-wing groups.” New Mexico is one of only two states (Washington is the other) that still give illegal aliens driver’s licenses because proof of residency is not required to obtain the card. Utah offers illegal aliens a special license that’s valid only in the state.Earlier this year legislators in both Washington and New Mexico rejected measures to reverse the practice, even though it violates a federal identification law (Real ID Act) enacted to protect national security after the 2001 terrorist attacks. But this week New Mexico is reconsidering the issue at the request of Governor Susana Martinez who is in her first year in office. Immigrant rights groups quickly deployed protestors to the state capitol to fight for the status quo.The legislature must address the issue because a residency certification program recently implemented by Governor Martinez to strip illegal aliens of driver’s licenses got struck down in court. The measure was challenged by a well-funded, open borders group that refers to the U.S. government’s immigration enforcement effort as racist and xenophobic.In its lawsuit the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) calls the certification ordinance “unconstitutional” because it targets and affects primarily Latinos in New Mexico. A few days ago a Santa Fe judge sided with MALDEF, ordering a temporary restraining order on the measure which authorizes the state’s Motor Vehicle Division to require proof of legal residency from license holders.New Mexico started giving illegal aliens driver’s licenses in 2002 thanks to the political force of a powerful open borders group (Somos Un Pueblo Unido or We are a United Town) that operates similar to MALDEF. A few years ago federal agents busted a major smuggling ring in which illegal immigrants from “special interest”countries exploited New Mexico’s lax law to obtain licenses. A Brazilian man and a Kazakhstan woman were eventually charged with running the illicit operation.