Random residency checks strike New Mexico taxpayers, families and workers

Gov. Susana Martinez plays political games with driver’s licenses

and forgets simple geography


(LAS CRUCES, New Mexico) — This week 10,000 foreign nationals living in New Mexico began receiving randomized letters informing them that they must drive to a new field office in Albuquerque to prove their New Mexican residency and identity.

But why?

The letters state in part, “This process is not optional… the Motor Vehicle Department will take steps to cancel your license or identification card if you fail to comply… ” The letters go on to explain that the recipient of this random check must drive to the newly opened office in Albuquerque to prove residency. The letters began to arrive in Las Cruceans’ mailboxes yesterday and are part of Gov. Susana Martinez’sthinly-veiled anti-immigrant agenda.

In her zeal to drive immigrant families underground, the governor is showing how disconnected she is from hardworking Las Cruceans and southern New Mexico residents. The governor must not have any immigrant friends or acquaintances if she doesn’t realize that many cannot cross the Border Patrol checkpoints on I-10 or I-25 on the way to Albuquerque. If this weren’t bad enough, the nine-hour roundtrip drive to Albuquerque during the workday is a significant financial hardship an undue burden for families.

The truth is this effort has nothing to do with proper ID or public safety. If any number of the 10,000 chosen in the letter lottery, including lawful permanent residents, fail to show up in Albuquerque, Gov. Martinez can falsely claim that each of them is abusing the New Mexico law that allows undocumented workers to lawfully earn their license to drive. The governor is padding the numbers to support her agenda. This scheme would enable her to push for increasingly harsh anti-immigrant policies.

Furthermore, the governor is thoughtlessly spending state resources to require families and workers to prove yet again what they have already proven to authorities: that they are lawful permanent residents of the state or that they are immigrants earning their driver’s licenses according to New Mexico law.

This policy likely violates both the U.S. and New Mexico Constitutions. And taxpayers can’t afford tofund an illegal, politically motivated booby trap.

Either Gov. Martinez’s government is not taking into consideration the fact that Las Cruces taxpayers work during workdays, or there are other motives for her letter lottery. The Border Network for Human Rights calls on the governor to immediately stop the residency certification program and to stop playing political games with hardworking New Mexico families.

The Border Network for Human Rights, founded in 1998, is one of the leading immigration reform and human rights advocacy organization in the United States. Based in El Paso, BNHR has over 7,000 members in El Paso and Southern New Mexico.

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