As more states prepare to offer driving privileges to immigrants who illegally entered the U.S., heavily Hispanic New Mexico appears headed in the other direction.
An Associated Press review of state records shows New Mexico is issuing fewer driver's licenses to them, with the number of first-time licenses dropping 21 percent during the first half of this year.
The reason for the abrupt decline remains unclear.
Officials in Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration say there's been no recent crackdown by the Motor Vehicle Division and the requirements for immigrants to obtain a license haven't changed, although the governor has fought unsuccessfully for three years to scrap the license policy.
An immigrant rights advocate suggests New Mexico's weak economy may be a cause.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.