This week, Governor Martinez finally lost her five-year assault on our families as the Legislature voted overwhelmingly to keep our immigrant families licensed in New Mexico.
More than 90,000 of us who live, work and contribute to this state fought successfully for the dignity of our families against insurmountable odds. And despite the pressures to implement the REAL ID Act this year, Republican and Democratic legislators listened to a majority of New Mexican voters who support keeping undocumented immigrants licensed to drive for the safety and well being of all New Mexicans.
Initially, the proposal by the Governor and House Republicans would have created a discriminatory driver’s permit only for undocumented immigrants, required fingerprinting and background checks for all permit holders, and mandated that MVD send our information to federal immigration officials. But they did not get what they wanted. Many legislators stood strong, and against all odds our familias fought back.
The new law creates two types of licenses, a REAL ID compliant license and a non-Real ID license, referred to as a “driving authorization card,” which will be available to citizens and undocumented immigrants alike. Only first-time license applicants who are undocumented will be required to submit fingerprints, but their information will not be shared with federal immigration or other law enforcement agencies.
A special “thank you” to the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops for their unyielding and bold support for immigrant families in our state.
Thank you to the last minute push against fingerprinting by all of our supporters, the NM Hispanic Bar Association, Enlace Comunitario, Solace Crisis Treatment Center and the victim advocacy community in New Mexico, as well as dozens of families from Somos Portales and Somos Clovis who kept reaching out to Republican Senator Stuart Ingle to the very end, the vast majority of our families (about 95%) will be grandfathered in and will never have to be fingerprinted by MVD.
We are proud that legislators stood up the Governor’s anti-immigrant agenda and successfully coalesced around a non-discriminatory, practical, and compassionate approach to implementing the REAL ID Act.
As this law is implemented, we will remain vigilant to ensure that this Governor does not break the law and overstep her authority. And we will keep fighting to support all our families in New Mexico.
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