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N.M. Gov. Martinez cracks down on licenses for foreign nationals

Gov. Susana Martinez ordered the Motor Vehicle Department to send out 10,000 letters to the estimated 85,000 foreign nationals who have New Mexico Driver’s Licenses but no Social Security numbers, asking them to to prove they still live in the state.

Those who get a letter must make an appointment with MVD within 30 days, and bring proof of residency — a lease, bank statement, pay stubs, utility bills or other verifying documents. If the license-holder does not show or cannot prove state residency, then his license is canceled.

Martinez wants to repeal the 2003 measure allowing foreign nationals to obtain driver’s licenses — only Washington State has a similar law — but the Senate tabled the bill. Gov. Richardson signed the law as a public safety measure — illegal immigrants already drive to their jobs, giving them licenses and allowing them to have auto insurance would make the roads safer.

However, the Martinez administration says the system is vulnerable to fraud and abuse.

“Thirty-five percent of our phone calls to make an appointment come from area codes from outside New Mexico,” said Tax and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla. “We had one address used 60 times for a place of residence.”

This rule will allow foreign nationals who live in New Mexico to keep their licenses, while canceling those who have moved out-of-state or showed New Mexico residency just to obtain a driver’s license.

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