SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — As more states are preparing to give driving privileges to immigrants who illegally entered the U.S., heavily Hispanic New Mexico appears headed in the other direction.
The state is issuing fewer driver’s licenses to them, with the number of first-time licenses dropping 21 percent during the first half of this year, according to a review of state records by The Associated Press.
The reason for the abrupt decline remains unclear.
Officials in Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration say there’s been no recent crackdown by the Motor Vehicle Division and the requirements for immigrants to obtain a license haven’t changed, although the governor has fought unsuccessfully for three years to scrap the license policy.
An immigrant rights advocate suggests the weak economy may be a cause. The state economy has been lagging behind the broader national recovery, posting much smaller job growth figures than national numbers in recent months.
“Immigrant workers generally go where they have family and where they have job opportunities. Clearly there aren’t many job opportunities in New Mexico,” said Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based group that Login to read more