A judge is allowing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration to move ahead with a limited investigation to determine whether some immigrants with New Mexico driver’s licenses still live in the state.
District Judge Sarah Singleton on Tuesday decided that some residency checks can continue, although she’s putting on hold the administration’s broad plan for potentially certifying the licenses of tens of thousands of foreign nationals, including those living illegally in the country. The judge said she will issue an injunction to block the program pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Singleton said she had problems with the state’s decision to require 10,000 foreign nationals with New Mexico driver’s licenses to verify in person that they still live in the state.
The judge said the Motor Vehicle Division must show “good cause” — as required in the state motor vehicle code — that the foreign national receiving the letter has committed some type of fraud. Otherwise, sending a letter to them solely on the fact that they were born in another country does not stand, she said.
“I do not believe this is a neutral classification,” Singleton said, adding that “a lot” of the selected foreign nationals probably also “have brown eyes.”
Singleton argued that both citizens and noncitizens alike “are covered by the equal protection clause.”