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Both Sides Prod On License Issue

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SANTA FE — New Mexico lawmakers are getting an earful from proponents and opponents of the 2003 law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

On Wednesday, a delegation of pastors and rabbis delivered a letter signed by 115 religious leaders from around the state to legislators, urging them to support the current law.

The letter claimed the law has improved public safety and decried Gov. Susana Martinez’s push to overturn it.

“By labeling members of our immigrant communities ‘criminals and terrorists,’ it further marginalizes them and their families,” the letter says.

Meanwhile, a national political action group launched its own phone and e-mail blitz in an attempt to stir up support for the repeal effort.

The president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC cited the fact that New Mexico is one of only two states that allow foreign nationals to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status.

Washington has a similar law, while Utah allows illegal immigrants to obtain a more limited driving permit.

ALIPAC President William Gheen said the group’s 40,000-member network has been asked to lobby lawmakers in support of New Mexicans who are fighting against an “illegal immigrant invasion of America.”

Recent reports show the number of New Mexico driver’s licenses issued to foreign nationals has decreased sharply since Martinez took office in January.

At least four bills have been introduced on the subject of driver’s licenses for foreign nationals during the ongoing special session. None of the three had been voted on through Wednesday.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal

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