Records show that newly issued driver’s licenses to immigrants in New Mexico have plunged by nearly a third in the past year despite no change in the state’s policy of granting driving privileges to foreign nationals living in the country illegally.
There’s no clear explanation for the 31 percent drop from 2012 to 2013, but the trend is continuing so far this year, according to state records obtained by The Associated Press.
Immigrant rights activist Marcela Diaz of Santa Fe contends that fewer immigrants are moving to New Mexico because of a weak economy and lack of jobs.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez attributes the decline to the “word getting out” in the immigrant community that New Mexico prosecutes individuals who fraudulently try to obtain licenses when they aren’t state residents.