Legislative Priorities for Immigration Rights 2015
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF NEW MEXICO
Driver’s Licenses for All: A Public Safety Issue
The League of Women Voters supports laws that integrate immigrants into state and national systems, including the provision of driver’s licenses, which increase road safety. LWVNM supports continuing to make driver’s licenses available to ALL qualified foreign nationals who reside in New Mexico.
Limiting licenses to those with social security numbers, passports, visas, or proof of ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” status is bad for public safety and bad policy. These bills put the public at risk by not allowing New Mexico residents with federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers* who meet rigorous requirements to obtain and hold licenses; these residents will continue to drive on our public roadways untrained and uninsured in order to conduct their daily business.
In 2003, with broad bi-partisan support and endorsement by law enforcement, faith, business, labor, and community organizations, New Mexico implemented a law allowing a qualified foreign national without a social security number to apply for a New Mexico driver’s license. The current system works and has become a model for other states.
Being issued a driver’s license ensures that
- Individuals have demonstrated knowledge of the rules and laws of the road by passing the written and road exams successfully.
- Name, address, contact information, photo is in NM Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) database for use by law enforcement.
- A driver meets the requirement for purchasing automobile insurance.
Having drivers licensed and entered in MVD’s database ensures that law enforcement has access to information about individuals who are involved in traffic violations, accidents, and vehicular emergencies as well as those who may be suspected of criminal activity.
Driver’s licenses do not prove citizenship or legal immigration status. They do not replace social security numbers, which are required for voter registration, public assistance, federal health care programs, or any other benefits of citizenship. However, they do help individuals prove their identity so that they can get to work, get their children to school, cash their paychecks, purchase automobile insurance, and so forth, so they can contribute to the economy of New Mexico.
In the 2015 Legislative Session, the LWVNM opposes:
HB32 Rep. Pacheco Limit Issuance of Driver’s Licenses
HB79 Rep. Rehm Driver’s Licenses to Foreign Nationals
*The IRS issues Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get Social Security Numbers. ITINs are issued to workers so that they can pay the taxes they are legally required to pay. Some ITINs are issued to those who have legal status; some are issued to those who are undocumented.
Contact Information: Meredith Machen, (505) 577-6337, firstname.lastname@example.org