NM Lawmakers Pre-File Compromise Bill To Stop Giving Driver’s Licenses To Illegal Immigrants


SANTA FE  New Mexico State Representatives Paul Pacheco and Andy Nunez pre-filed legislation that will end the practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. 

The bill, HB 99, is a two-tier compromise that would provide REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses to New Mexico citizens and driving privilege cards to undocumented immigrants.

“The practice of giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is dangerous,” Pacheco said. “New Mexicans are demanding that we must put an end to the policy. I hope the Senate will agree with us this session and start listening to New Mexicans.” 

House Republicans have repeatedly fought to repeal the dangerous law that allows those here illegally to obtain a state driver’s license, but Democrats ignored New Mexicans and killed the legislation every time, he said. This bill is an effort to compromise with Democrats and get the law off the books by providing undocumented immigrants with a driving privilege card, and not a state driver’s license.

“New Mexicans have been very clear that they do not want undocumented immigrants to receive a state license,” Nunez said. “The law should have been repealed years ago. I hope that Democrats will compromise with us on this bill.”

The proposed bill would create two distinct forms of identification: a driver’s license that is REAL ID-compliant for citizens and residents with lawful immigration status and a driving privilege card for undocumented 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. 

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

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