Bipartisan Driver’s License Compromise Passes House


  • Bill will stop giving NM driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants

SANTA FE – A bipartisan compromise bill that will stop giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and bring New Mexico into compliance with the REAL ID Act passed the House Floor Wednesday by a 39-30 vote. House Bill 99 is sponsored by Representatives Paul Pacheco and Andy Nunez.

“I’m looking forward to continuing this fight in the Senate,” Pacheco said. “The bottom line is we need to stop giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and bring New Mexico into compliance with federal law. It’s dangerous. After years, it’s time to finally get this law passed.”

Republicans have been fighting to repeal the dangerous law that allows illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses in New Mexico for years. Unfortunately, the legislation was stalled and killed by Democrats even after New Mexicans made it clear they want the law off the books.

The bill proposes a compromise with Senate Democrats by giving those here illegally a driving privilege card while ensuring New Mexicans are able to receive a secure, REAL ID compliant license. It is a true two-tier compromise.

“We must stop giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” Nunez said. “The law needs to be passed this session. Action from the Senate Democrats on this issue is way past due.”

Under the proposal, two distinct forms of identification would be created: a secure license that is REAL ID compliant for citizens and residents with lawful immigration status, and a driving privilege card for illegal immigrants. The two cards would have different colors and designs to distinguish the driver’s license from the driving privilege card. The license would be valid for federal identification purposes and the driving privilege card would not.

Driving privilege cards would only be issued to individuals who cannot prove lawful immigration status, and it would only be valid for one year. To qualify for a driving privilege card, illegal immigrants would have to prove that they have resided in New Mexico for at least two years before applying or provide evidence that they have filed personal income taxes with the State of New Mexico for the prior year. Applicants would be required to successfully complete a driver’s education course, pass a written and road test and submit fingerprints.

The compromise proposed by Pacheco and Nunez is similar to approaches used in states such as California, Colorado, Nevada and Utah.