NM Pressures Illegal Immigrants to Prove Residency
POSTED: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 4:42pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 7:51am
NEW MEXICO- About 10,000 illegal immigrants who have a New Mexico driver's license will soon get letters from the MVD ordering them to come in and prove they still live here.
If they can't or don't show up their licenses will be cancelled. Secretary Demesia Padilla says it's a security issue.
“They're leaving New Mexico with a government issue ID that gives them access to federal buildings and ability to get on an airplane,” says Padilla.
The 10,000 who get the letters will be chosen at random from the 85,000 undocumented immigrants who've obtained New Mexico IDs since 2003. The Martinez administration claims many have presented fake addresses to get a license.
“We had one address used 60 times for a place of residence,” says Padilla.
“She’s going to unnecessary and totally wasteful lengths to go after a windmill that doesn't exist ,” says
Democratic Senator Gerald Ortiz Y Pino supports licenses for illegals.
He claims the fraud allegations are political moves by Martinez to capitalize on a hot-button issue.
“What are we making New Mexico safe from? People who need jobs? This is ridiculous. Terrorists? She's ludicrous,” says Pino.
Gov. Susana Martinez ordered the motor vehicle department to send letters to 10,000 random undocumented immigrants who have obtained state driver's licenses to prove they still live in New Mexico.
More than 85,000 people without social security numbers have received New Mexico driver's licenses since 2003, when the legislature passed a law allowing illegal immigrants to apply for a driver's license.
"There were a large number of folks that shouldn't have received (a license)," said tax and revenue secretary Demesia Padilla.
The 10,000 people who receive the letters will have 30 days to schedule an in-person appointment and bring documents, such as bank statements, utility bills, lease agreements or pay stubs, which prove they live in New Mexico. If they no longer live in-state or don't show up for an appointment, Padilla said their licenses will be cancelled.
Padilla said it's a security issue.
Martinez tried to repeal the 2003 law during this year's legislative session but failed. She vowed to revive the measure during the special session in September. Martinez said New Mexico has become a target for out-of-state criminals to come here to get a license.
Padilla said the number of fraud cases has been alarming. Padilla said the residency certification program is just an administrative fix. She said the real solution is to repeal the law altogether.
New Mexico and Washington are the only two states that still issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.