Their view: Licenses should be granted despite immigration status

Sen. Pete Campos offers his view on the immigrant license issue in New Mexico:

One of the most divisive, emotional and visceral issues to come before the New Mexico Legislature in recent years is that of whether the State of New Mexico should give driver’s licenses to people who are not in the United States legally.

If we look at the question objectively, the only logical answer can be “yes.”

Everyone wants to ensure that we keep our streets safe, but opponents of the current state law that grants people licenses to drive regardless of their immigration status say that it poses a threat to our national security. It is too easy, they say, for people who would do harm to our country to get a New Mexico driver’s license and then use that as a form of identification to build up a cache of more IDs, to open bank accounts, to rent apartments or buildings and to get on airplanes.

Those are legitimate concerns, and the New Mexico Legislature has made public safety and public health top priorities for years. That is why the New Mexico Senate approved a compromise measure that significantly tightens the requirements that foreign nationals must meet to get a driver’s license. People who cannot show that they are in the United States legally must provide a tax identification number; proof of their true identity, such as a passport from their home country; and two proofs that they really live in New Mexico, such as utility bills, bank statements, rental or mortgage receipts or student records; and they must be fingerprinted. In addition, licenses granted to people who cannot prove that they are here legally will be valid for only two years; those people must come into a Motor Vehicle Division office every two years to renew a license.

Finally, every license that was issued since 2003 to a foreign national who did not provide a social security number would be canceled within two years, and any foreign national who fraudulently tries to obtain a new driver’s license would be guilty of a fourth degree felony.

This compromise will help ensure that people who have New Mexico driver’s licenses are genuine New Mexico residents and have provided their true identity to the state. It will keep both our highways and our nation safer.