Wednesday, September 14, 2011
MALDEF Secures Preliminary Injunction in New Mexico Driver's License Lawsuit
More on the continuing saga of Gov. Susana Martinez's "investigation" into driver's licenses issued to foreign nationals in New Mexico. Yesterday, First Judicial District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled the NM Taxation and Revenue Department does not have a “compelling interest” to continue its programs of requiring certain state residents to re-verify their residence at either an Albuquerque or Las Cruces office. Judge Singleton also agreed with attorneys opposing the re-verification program that they are likely to prevail on their argument that the so-called re-verification program unconstitutionally targets individuals based on their alienage or national origin.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has issued a statement about the preliminary injunction noting that the court ruled yesterday that the injunction would remain in effect until the lawsuit challenging the program is finally resolved. To allow time for the preliminary injunction to be issued, Judge Singleton of the First Judicial District in Santa Fe has extended for another week the temporary restraining order issued on August 31, which prohibits all aspects of the unlawful re-certification program.
The court, however, will allow the State to continue with investigations into a small number of already-mailed letters that have been returned to the Department as undeliverable. While the re-verification program is on hold for now, Judge Singleton is allowing the NM Taxation and Revenue Department to investigate cases where it has specific and “particularized” information that fraud is likely occurring.
MALDEF intends to submit further briefing to the court on the limited investigation. The court has ordered the parties to submit a preliminary injunction in one week.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated, "This court decision should serve as a warning to the Governor and Secretary that they should follow the law as set by the Legislature and cease attempts to implement their own anti-immigrant policy agenda."
David Hinojosa, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel, stated, "Today's ruling bolsters MALDEF's resolve to fight this unlawful program that unfairly targets immigrants in the state. While today's victory is a significant step toward righting the wrong of this unlawful program, we will continue to fight until the last vestiges of this anti-immigrant program no longer threaten the Latino community."
On behalf of a group of New Mexico legislators and residents of New Mexico, MALDEF and the New Mexico law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan filed suit on August 24, 2011 against the Secretary of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, seeking to stop the targeting of immigrants in the state.
On August 31, Judge Singleton issued the temporary restraining order, which prohibits all aspects of the unlawful re-certification program until the preliminary injunction is issued.
The court held a preliminary injunction hearing yesterday on New Mexico's anti-Latino driver's license re-certification program. MALDEF attorneys and co-counsel, who obtained the temporary restraining order (TRO) on August 31, presented arguments in the hearing.
In addition, you can stay current on the issue of the driver's licenses by visiting Somos Un Pueblo Unido's driver's license information page at www.somosunpueblounido.org/DLNews/.