FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2016
Dozens of Advocates Speak Out Against Administration's New MVD Regulations; Toughest On New Mexico's Most Vulnerable Residents
Santa Fe, NM--Today, over 100 civil rights, domestic violence and homeless advocates spoke out against the administration's proposed driver's license law regulations during the first and only hearing in Santa Fe. Under the proposed regulations, the administration is adding unnecessary requirements for New Mexicans seeking a non-REAL ID license or identification card.
Earlier this year the N.M. Legislature approved House Bill 99 which created a two-tier driver's license system - one that meets all the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act and an alternative license known as the Driver's Authorization Card, or DAC, that would be available to everyone. HB 99 also created a two-tier system of state identification cards.
Last month, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) issued proposed regulations purporting to implement the requirements of HB 99. The proposed regulations detail exactly what documents the Department will accept from New Mexicans seeking license and identification cards. They unnecessarily require that all New Mexicans who have a social security number and want a non-federal ID or driver’s license must physically produce documents containing an identity number--a social security card, an employment or tax document. These are documents that many New Mexicans simply don't have. While required for a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card, they are explicitly not required by statute for non-REAL-ID credentials.
"This administration is once again overstepping its authority and could harm our state in the process," said Marcela Díaz Executive Director for Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "New Mexicans and the legislature wanted an alternative license to the REAL ID mainly because of REAL ID's onerous identification requirements. The new Driver's Authorization Card is that alternative for citizens and non-citizens alike. Why is MVD seeking to implement new regulations that would make it hard, if not impossible, for many of New Mexico's most vulnerable people--the homeless, elderly, and unemployed--from getting that alternative license or ID card? It's senseless and it's unsafe for New Mexico."
"People experiencing homelessness are unlikely to have the types of documents required by the proposed regulations," said Lisa Huval, Associate Director of the NM Coalition to End Homelessness. "The list of documents that MVD will accept for both the non-federal ID and drivers' licenses should remain expansive. That way those experiencing homelessness will be able to obtain a form of identification so they can find safe and stable housing, secure employment and access other crucial services."
"The legislative compromise that resulted in House Bill 99 intentionally allows U.S. citizens and legal immigrants to opt out of the REAL ID and opt for a driver's authorization card, the alternative to the REAL ID compliant license," said Peter Simonson, Executive Director at the ACLU of New Mexico. "It also identifies the information those New Mexicans would need to provide the MVD in order to get that alternative. The Department does not have the authority to require information beyond what the statute requires. NMTRD Secretary should create a more expansive list for the DAC and truly give New Mexican a choice as Legislators intended."
"New laws approved by the Legislature should be implemented in a way that help families, not hurt them," said Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Executive Director for Enlace Comunitario. "Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault need to have easy access to an alternative to the REAL ID that they can use to cash a check, check into a hotel, get a restraining order and most importantly secure safe housing."
"I am concerned that the proposed regulations set a standard difficult to reach for many residents in northern New Mexico's rural communities, especially the elderly," said Michelle Martinez, Española City Councilor. "Residents in rural communities must drive since there is little or no public transportation. This regulation might force people to drive illegally if residents can't fulfill REAL ID requirements and there's no real alternative."
Other concerns mentioned at the hearing today regarded disingenuous information that the administration continues to put out in the media implying that the DAC is only for undocumented immigrants, as well as a lack of due process and viable appeal process for immigrants denied a DAC under the proposed regulations.
"Why is the Governor's administration continuing to misinform the public about the rights US citizens have to a non-REAL ID license," said Roberto Sanchez, a Board Member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "I watched the ads on TV and have listened to the radio ads on REAL ID and this administration is misleading New Mexicans."
Aside from seeking to implement these harsh new regulations, the MVD had earlier stated its plans to bypass the public comment period required by law and implement the new law earlier this week. But after receiving a letter from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and several other legal organizations, the administration backed down and affirmed that the law will not be implemented until later next month.