Immigration and Driving in New Mexico

Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licences has been under heavy debate across the entire country. Many states are in heavy opposition against this, but New Mexico currently allows illegal immigrants to obtain a valid state drivers license.

Current New Mexico Drivers License Regulations

New Mexico has allowed drivers licenses to be issued to illegal immigrants for some time now. Many officials within the state have argued that allowing the immigrants to get a license improves road safety by reducing the number of illegal drivers who do not carry auto insurance.

Under law, licensed drivers are required to have an active auto insurance plan. At the very least, drivers must have liability insurance that covers potential damages caused to another vehicle in the event of an accident.

Interestingly enough, this is not the only public service available to undocumented immigrants within the state. If the individuals are in need of services that are needed to protect life or safety, then they are eligible under New Mexico law. This means illegal immigrants can receive government funded healthcare and emergency services offered in the state.

While undocumented immigrants are allowed services and privileges provided by the state, any illegal citizens in the state are required to be reported to Immigration authorities upon arrest. Any individual who is arrested in New Mexico must provide proof of legal residence. This raises the concern that by allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, the state is providing them with false proof of legal residence in the state.

Current Efforts To Change New Mexico Drivers License Laws

Within state legislature, a bill has already been presented to stop allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. This bill passed through the House of Representatives with a large majority vote. Governor Susana Martinez backs the bill and efforts to change current New Mexico drivers license laws continue among state officials.

Alternative bills have also been presented that compromise and allow illegal immigrants to drive under permit without being able to use the permit as a valid state I.D. Martinez and the creator of the Bill, Mr. Nunez have argued that these bills still allow too much privilege to illegal immigrants.

At the federal level, New Mexico is not in compliance with the Real ID Act. This Act requires all states to adhere to many common practices regarding state issued drivers licenses and identifications. The Act was passed in order to establish a country-wide standard for identity verification at the federal level. The Real ID Act deadline is January 15, 2013 and New Mexico as well as some other states are still not in compliance.

Future New Mexico Drivers License Laws For Illegal Citizens

In light of the federal Real ID Act and lobbying efforts of political officials, undocumented immigrants will not likely be able to obtain valid drivers licenses in the future. While the issue continues to be debated on political, ethical and racial levels, it all comes down to federal regulations.

State laws that contradict federal law are passed quite frequently. These laws are commonly debated among citizens within the state and local law officials. In addition to this, federal officials still possess the authority to enter the state and take measures to combat against activities they still deem illegal.

Because state law and federal laws often contradict themselves, it is up to individual authority branches within the state if they want to abide by it. This causes disruptions within the state legal practices and often leads to the contradictory laws being revoked from legislation.

Whether you support drivers licenses for illegal immigrants or not, until it is better regulated and controlled, the issue will continually be attacked and inevitably lead to the change of current New Mexico drivers license laws.

There are positive and negative points on both sides of the issue, but no happy medium has been reached. Without a universally recognized standard, the debate and political efforts to change New Mexico drivers license laws will continue.