Compromise In Sight On Licenses?
Several bills have been introduced at the state capitol that would change the law granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. It's unclear whether the governor, who has supported all-out repeal in the past, now wants to compromise.
Republican Representative Stuart Ingle says he wants to find middle ground on the immigrant license topic so legislators can move on to more important issues.
"We've got to get this solved. We've beat this around for two or three years; we need to get something solved; hopefully this session we can come up with something that's gonna work."
But Ingle says the law that grants the same license to citizens and illegal residents alike, isn't working:
"There were over 300 licenses sold from one address in Portales, New Mexico. That's not right, we've got to get some control on how they're sold. If we have to repeal this law, personally I'm for it, but we have to have something else afterwards, to come in there."
Earlier this week Governor Martinez told reporters she was willing to compromise, but a day later she said she wants a full repeal of the current law. Several bills have been introduced, including one that does call for repeal, by freshman Representative Paul Pacheco - a Republican from Albuquerque. But democratic Representative Lucky Varela says with immigration reform on the horizon in Washington, there is no rush to repeal the law now:
"Why can't we establish a process by where we give 'em time to expire those licenses? When they come back we'll have better, requirements for identification."
Varela hopes for a compromise bill, not a full repeal. Senator John Arthur Smith also wants to meet somewhere in the middle, and he's working on a bill with Senator Ingle modeled on a Utah law that allows for immigrant licenses that cannot otherwise be used as a legal ID for air travel, for instance.
"I'm hoping this issue will be resolved. In the event that the governor's bill that Representative Pacheco is carrying doesn't move forward, we're trying to come forward with what we believe will be a compromise, but that remains to be seen."
Immigrant rights groups have said they are in support of tightening up provisions of the licensing law to combat fraud while still allowing residents to drive legally.