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New Mexico Governor Fights to Repeal DL Law

Posted by Matthew Green | Apr 03, 2014 | 0 Comments

It's nothing new for our New Mexico neighbors, but their current governor is working to repeal a state law for the fifth time in four years. The law at issue was implemented in 2003 and allows for immigrants - no matter their status - to obtain a driver's license in the state. As with many immigration matters, this law is fairly controversial.

According to an article published on, the effort to repeal the law continues to stall in the Senate. Apparently, it gains approval by those in the House and then loses steam. However, Governor Susana Martinez remains hopeful as she repeatedly tries to squash the law. In a recent email penned by the governor, she urged early proponents of the repeal not to lose hope. “Now, our opponents want us to give up,” she wrote. “They are organized and well financed so I am asking you to join me by contributing whatever you can to help make sure we go into the session prepared to fight.”

An interesting aspect of this story is the fact that many questioned the need for the governor to send out the fundraising email. It's no secret that those who oppose the governor have little funding for which they can put towards fighting against the governor's cause. Most people who vehemently oppose the governor's proposal are immigrant activists.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, there is no fundraising program in place to help oppose the governor. In fact, studies show that the majority of New Mexicans dislike the idea of permitting undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. However, as noted above, the main problem for Governor Martinez is not the state's citizens, but the “political makeup of the Legislature.”

The upcoming 2014 elections could change that. Currently, Democrats have a 37-33 advantage in the House. The state's Republicans hope for a shift in order to regain a majority in the House. Meanwhile, Democrats have a 25-17 majority in the Senate. However, there will not be a senate election in the state until 2016.

The governor's proposed plan would repeal the law, but allow an exception for those who were brought to the U.S. as children and have already been given deferred immigration action status by the government.

The governor of New Mexico considers the current law to be “dangerous.” She promotes her proposal as a type of “commitment she made to New Mexicans, who also want to see the law repealed.” Although state Democrats have offered a compromise with the governor, she refuses to back down. One idea was to offer non transferable driving permits, rather than traditional licenses.

It will be interesting to see how this proposal continues throughout the early part of 2014. Further, what will the cost be to the state if the governor does achieve success this time? Often, politicians as well as citizens consider immigration issues to be black and white. That could not be further from the truth. The reality is that the state's economy will suffer. There is always a type of “trickle down” effect that occurs when laws like these are repealed. What are your thoughts?

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...


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