November 17, 2016
Santa Fe – On Wednesday, civil rights, domestic violence and homeless rights advocates announced a new hotline that will be available for all New Mexicans to learn about their rights under the new two-tiered driver’s license law amid its inefficient implementation by the governor’s administration.
Starting today, New Mexicans can call 1-844-365-NMDL (1-844-365-6635) to learn about their rights under the new law and report any irregularities during their visit to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).
“The administration continues to overstep its authority and further burden New Mexicans as it inefficiently implements the new two-tiered driver’s license law,” said Marcela Diaz, executive director for Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “We are very disturbed that at least two MVD officials in Santa Fe and Española are unlawfully denying non-REAL ID licenses to those whose current licenses are about to expire. And [we] are further concerned that the administration is unnecessarily requiring non-REAL ID license applicants to re-submit all of their original documents. This is a prime example of how the administration is going beyond the scope of their authority and in the process hurting families during a struggling economy.”
In February, the N.M. Legislature approved House Bill 99, which created a two-tiered driver’s license system, effectively creating a license that meets the strict requirements of the federal REAL ID Act for those that want one and an alternative license known as the Driver’s Authorization Card, or DAC, that does not meet those requirements, for all New Mexicans—citizens and non-citizens alike.
“We did not want to force all New Mexicans to get a REAL ID license because we knew that would create havoc,” said state Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-12). “That is why we made sure to include an alternative non-REAL ID license, known as a driver’s authorization card, that would be easier to get and would give New Mexicans a choice.”
Earlier this week, the governor’s administration implemented the new law after spending months misleading New Mexicans about the requirements of the new two-tiered driver’s license system, according to Somos.
“Let’s get one thing clear,” said Representative Javier Martinez (D-11). “The great majority of undocumented immigrants in our state who currently have a license are not required to submit their fingerprints when they renew their license. Anyone saying otherwise is either lying or misinterpreting the law.”
Other civil rights and homeless rights advocates also spoke out.
“Many New Mexicans are rightly concerned about the REAL ID, a classic example of government overreach that compromises our privacy while doing nothing to make us safer,” said Steve Robert Allen, policy director with the American Civil Liberties Union of NM. “But in New Mexico, legislators gave people a choice on REAL ID. The new driver’s license law allows U.S. citizens and legal immigrants to opt out of the REAL ID and opt for a driver’s authorization card, a non-REAL ID compliant license.”
“Even with the minor changes MVD officials made to the final regulations, people experiencing homelessness will remain unlikely to have the types of documents required by the administration,” said Lisa Huval, associate director of the NM Coalition to End Homelessness. “Those experiencing homelessness need to be able to easily obtain a form of identification, or a license, so they can find safe and stable housing, secure employment and access other crucial services. This will not only affect those experiencing homelessness but will place the elderly and others at risk of homelessness.”
Click here to view the final regulations (starting on page 1018).
Click here to view the final version of HB99.