A Polish man has pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with a New Mexico driver’s license scam aimed at illegal immigrants, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales announced Friday.
Under an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in federal court in Albuquerque, Pawel Skladnik, 38, admitted to transporting illegal immigrants into New Mexico and arranging for them to get driver’s licenses with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division. He pleaded guilty to a federal charge of transporting illegal immigrants.
Court documents show that Skladnik and Lukasz Koslik, 28, also a Polish national, were indicted in August for helping illegal immigrants not living in New Mexico get state driver’s licenses last year. Authorities said Koslik provided false residency documents to the illegal immigrants who were living outside of New Mexico, and Skladnik trained others on how to fraudulently obtain identity documents for illegal immigrants.
Federal authorities said the pair also advertised the illegal services in newspapers and online magazines.
Skladnik has been in federal custody since his arrest in August. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Koslik has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
New Mexico and Washington are the only states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same driver’s license as a U.S. citizen. Utah grants immigrants a driving permit that can’t be used for identification, unlike a driver’s license that helps people open bank accounts or board a commercial airliner.
Gov. Susana Martinez has pressed state lawmakers to repeal New Mexico’s law over fraud concerns but the state Senate has blocked all repeal efforts.
During a session that ended earlier this month, the state Senate passed a bill that would have made it harder for illegal immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses. Yet, the bill did not get a vote in the House.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal