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Politics

Protests Against Plan To Repeal Driver's Licenses For Illegal Immigrants

Protesters at a rally in front of city hall in Las Cruces, New Mexico. They are angered by the governor's efforts to repeal a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Protesters at a rally in front of city hall in Las Cruces, New Mexico. They are angered by the governor's efforts to repeal a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
New Mexico Licenses Protest
New Mexico Licenses Protest

Hundreds of people marched Tuesday in Las Cruces to protest the New Mexico governor's effort to repeal driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. The demonstration comes as state lawmakers will likely debate the issue in a special session next month.

“El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido! (A united people will never be defeated!),” was one of the many chants by protesters.

The crowd included dairy farm workers, day laborers and nannies waving American flags. Many carried signs in Spanish saying: "New Mexico can do better."

They descended upon Las Cruces city hall angered by thousands of letters sent out by governor Susana Martinez's office. The letters were sent randomly to foreign nationals with New Mexico driver's licenses asking them to verify their residence in the state.

Olga Pedroza is a city councilwoman who said the initiative unfairly targets immigrants.

“Without driver's licenses they cannot drive to work, their employers may not hire them and they may not be able to buy insurance," Pedroza said. "That puts the rest of us in danger.”

The governor argues that the current law invites out of state criminals to obtain the state driver's license fraudulently. The letter states that the driver must verify his or her residency in the next 30 days or else the license will be canceled.

New Mexico authorities have arrested people from as far away as Poland and China suspected of driver's license fraud.

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