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New Mexico bishops back driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

Catholic World News - August 19, 2011

The bishops of New Mexico have announced their opposition to Gov. Susana Martinez’s efforts to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses. New Mexico is currently one of three states that permit illegal immigrants to receive licenses.

“We support extending driver license privileges only to residents of the state,” the bishops said in a recent statement. “We are in favor of allowing individuals without Social Security numbers to obtain licenses provided that they present other acceptable forms of identification, such as a valid passport, consular identification card, or other recognized government-issued documents, currently required by present law.”

The bishops also outlined their position on immigration reform:

The principal driving force behind the vast majority of undocumented immigrants’ presence in the State of New Mexico, and elsewhere, resides in a chronic lack of legal visas available under our current immigration system. With a total of only 5,000 permanent visas offered to unskilled laborers for legal entry into the United States, it is clear why as many as 300,000 undocumented people each year are absorbed into our nation’s workforce. Comprehensive immigration reform would replace illegality with a system based on legal presence and legal entry …

Not to be confused with a system of “amnesty,” this type of immigration reform would require those who have broken the law to earn their legal status by paying a fine, paying taxes, learning English, and waiting at the back of a long line to have the opportunity of becoming a United States citizen.

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