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N.M. Gov. Martinez tightens proof of residency requirements for driver’s licenses

Gov. Susana Martinez directed Taxation & Revenue Department and Motor Vehicle Department officials to begin the administrative process of tightening requirements for driver’s licenses, according to a press release (pdf) from her office. Martinez hopes to implement the recommendations by the end of July.

MVD has already stopped accepting affidavits of residency as proof of residency and now requires foreign nationals to call ahead for an appointment to obtain a license.

Martinez campaigned on ending the practice of allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, while a House committee tabled a bill that would have ended the practice and similar measures failed in the Senate in February. The issue has been a talking point in Martinez’s fundraising efforts.

In addition to allowing a person to operate a vehicle, a driver’s license, along with a Social Security card, allows people to work. Former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas, in a New York Times Magazine story, described how he used an Oregon address of a family friend to obtain a driver’s license for eight years:

The Post internship posed a tricky obstacle: It required a driver’s license. (After my close call at the California D.M.V., I’d never gotten one.) So I spent an afternoon at The Mountain View Public Library, studying various states’ requirements. Oregon was among the most welcoming — and it was just a few hours’ drive north.

Again, my support network came through. A friend’s father lived in Portland, and he allowed me to use his address as proof of residency. Pat, Rich and Rich’s longtime assistant, Mary Moore, sent letters to me at that address. Rich taught me how to do three-point turns in a parking lot, and a friend accompanied me to Portland.

The license meant everything to me — it would let me drive, fly and work. But my grandparents worried about the Portland trip and the Washington internship. While Lola offered daily prayers so that I would not get caught, Lolo told me that I was dreaming too big, risking too much.

I was determined to pursue my ambitions. I was 22, I told them, responsible for my own actions. But this was different from Lolo’s driving a confused teenager to Kinko’s. I knew what I was doing now, and I knew it wasn’t right. But what was I supposed to do?

I was paying state and federal taxes, but I was using an invalid Social Security card and writing false information on my employment forms. But that seemed better than depending on my grandparents or on Pat, Rich and Jim — or returning to a country I barely remembered. I convinced myself all would be O.K. if I lived up to the qualities of a “citizen”: hard work, selfreliance, love of my country.

At the D.M.V. in Portland, I arrived with my photocopied Social Security card, my college I.D., a pay stub from The San Francisco Chronicle and my proof of state residence — the letters to the Portland address that my support network had sent. It worked. My license, issued in 2003, was set to expire eight years later, on my 30th birthday, on Feb. 3, 2011. I had eight years to succeed professionally, and to hope that some sort of immigration reform would pass in the meantime and allow me to stay.

He later obtained a driver’s license from Washington State after the expiration of the Oregon license.

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