A recent article by Russell Contreras of the Associated Press pointed out that driver’s licenses issued to immigrants in New Mexico have steadily declined since 2010 and in 2014 were 70 percent below 2010 levels.
This statistic naturally caught my attention, given my research interests in uninsured motorists and driver’s licensing policy, both in New Mexico and nationwide. It should be noted that the statistics quoted in the article included all immigrants – those here both legally and illegally.
The AP article alludes to the possibility that the decline coincides with Gov. Susana Martinez’s term in office. It is well-known that Martinez has made multiple attempts to compel the state Legislature to repeal the law that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
Perhaps such efforts by the state’s chief executive officer have created a perception among undocumented immigrants and their supporters that is less than welcoming. Could it be as simple as a reduction in the number of immigrants residing in New Mexico? Accurately estimating the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is a challenging task, as evidenced by some estimates differing by as much as 10 million persons.