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Poll: New Mexico Voters Back Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants

A majority of New Mexico voters support a bipartisan state bill approved in 2015 that backers say meets a federal requirement for state-issued identification, such as a driver’s license, but does not discriminate against a person’s immigration status, according to a poll released on Monday. Somos Un Pueblo Unido_logo_feature

The poll, conducted by Latino Decisions, also found that more than half of all state voters believe undocumented immigrants should be able to apply for driver’s licenses, which New Mexico has permitted since 2003.

The two issues are receiving attention this month because the state Legislature is in session. Also, the state Senate bill to conform with the federal REAL ID Act has not gained the support of enough lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez to become law, according to Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a social justice organization that supports immigrants in the state.

In October, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to issue an extension for New Mexico to be in compliance with the REAL ID Act, which protects against national security fraud. Somos Un Pueblo Unido points to the bipartisan bill approved by state senators last year as a way to provide a stable driver’s license policy for tens of thousands of immigrants and their families.

“The compromise bill would give eligible residents of New Mexico a choice to go through the additional procedures to get a REAL ID compliant license and allow people who either do not want one, or who are ineligible for one, to keep their current driver’s license that when renewed would state ‘not valid for federal identification purposes,'” according to the grassroots organization.

Latino Decisions, a national polling firm, found that 56 percent of voters support the state Senate bill. In addition, 69 percent of state voters support driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The poll results have remained roughly the same at least since 2012, Latino Decisions said in a statement.

“New Mexico has [a] long history of passing sensible and compassionate policies towards immigrants meant to integrate our families, not alienate them,” Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pubelo Unidos, said in a statement. “This data shows that attitudes of voters coincide with that powerful tradition.”

The poll involved 500 registered voters in the state. They were contacted via phone or online.

Somos Un Pueblo Unido, an immigrant-led organization, focuses on civil rights and helping workers throughout New Mexico. 

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