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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Local Leaders Respond to Permanent Injunction Against Driver's License Residency Certification Program

On 10/4/12 the following was released from Somos Un Pueblo Unido.

Local Latino and religious leaders hailed the permanent injunction finalized yesterday against New Mexico's "Foreign National Residency Certification Program." The program, enacted in July 2011, was successfully challenged by four state legislators and Marisela Morales, a long-time New Mexico resident of Silver City and Legal Permanent Resident. Ms. Morales was summoned, based on her national origin, to a special Albuquerque office to resubmit papers proving her identity and residency in New Mexico or face cancellation of her driver's license. To see permanent injunction, click here.

"This discriminatory program was clearly intended to fuel an anti-immigrant political agenda in New Mexico, and we are relieved that it did not prevail." said María Cristina López, Founding Board Member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a statewide immigrants' rights organization. "We're all for fighting fraud and abuse, but the state should not be wasting tax payer money by targeting people solely based on their race and national origin. It's simply unacceptable in New Mexico."

The plaintiffs were represented by MALDEF, a national Latino rights organization, and Albuquerque-based law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldbert Urias & Ward, PA (Freedman Boyd).

David Urias, lead attorney for the plaintiffs said on Thursday "No one, of course, supports fraud in the driver's license application process, but there are other legal ways to ensure that fraud is prevented - implementing unconstitutional programs which target people solely on the fact that they weren't born in the United States, isn't one of them. The demise of this unlawful program will hopefully open up a dialogue that will result in lawful policies and procedures that address real problems, not make scapegoats out of immigrants for political gain."

The driver's license re-verification program was created and funded by the Taxation and Revenue Department and MVD at the height of a contentious legislative debate regarding the current policy that requires immigrant drivers, regardless of immigration status, to be licensed, registered and insured. The Governor pushed unsuccessfully for a full repeal of the law, while the majority of legislators supported reforming the law to strengthen identity and residency requirements, including fingerprinting of foreign nationals, and toughen penalties for fraud.

"MVD already has many tools that it can legally employ to fight fraud without discriminating against immigrants or punishing honest people who have gone through the proper steps to apply for a license," said Allen Sanchez, Director of the New Mexico Catholic Conference of Bishops. "Still, we support driver's license reform that would create even more tools to fight fraud, but safeguard the families who live in New Mexico and who have complied with state law."

Somos Un Pueblo Unido spearheaded a campaign in 2003 with law enforcement officials, victims rights agencies, and faith and civil right group to enable qualified immigrant drivers to apply for licenses, obtain insurance, and register their vehicles.

October 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM in Civil Liberties, Hispanic Issues | Permalink


Glad to hear this news!

Posted by: bg | Oct 12, 2012 9:00:32 AM