New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez To Renew Push To Repeal Law Giving Undocumented Immigrants Right To Driver’s Licenses
For years, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has sought to repeal a law passed by her predecessor Bill Richardson in 2003 which made undocumented immigrants eligible to receive driver’s licenses. For years, she’s failed in her attempts. But the governor’s deputy chief of staff, Scott Darnell, told newspaper The New Mexican this week that Martinez, who plans to run for reelection in 2014, is determined to keep trying to pass her repeal for as long as she’s in office. New Mexico is one of only 11 states – as well as the District of Columbia – which permits undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses.
Martinez, a Republican, plans to introduce her driver’s license bill – which has failed in the state legislature during the past three regular sessions – during a 30-day legislative session beginning on January 21st during which lawmakers’ attention will be focused primarily on the state budget. Her administration is trying to shore up temporary funding for a lottery-financed college scholarship program, and estimates the Legislature might need to allocate about $15-20 million in order to do so as tuition costs continue to rise along with student demand.
Rep. Brian Egolf, a longtime Democratic opponent of the bill, told The New Mexican on Wednesday, “I’m disappointed that the governor continues to push to take driver’s licenses away from people who need them to take their kids to school and to go to work. … Her job is to make it easier on the lives of New Mexicans, and I don’t see how it improves the lives of some New Mexican kids to take away their parents’ driver’s licenses.” He also criticized the governor’s decision to debate the bill during the 30-day session, calling it a waste of time.