Many New Mexican Voters Favor Choice on Real ID & Support Driver's Licenses for Undocumented

Jan 19, 2016

 Commentary: On Monday, Latino Decisions, a leading national research and polling firm, released results from a new scientific poll revealing a majority of registered voters in New Mexico supports issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and favors a bipartisan compromise proposal that was passed in the state Senate during the 2015 legislative session.  That proposal would give eligible New Mexicans a choice in obtaining a REAL ID compliant license, while allowing undocumented immigrant drivers to apply for a non-discriminatory license that is not REAL ID compliant.

Among the results, the poll shows a majority (56%) of Hispanic and non-Hispanic registered voters in New Mexico support the bipartisan Senate compromise bill that was passed in the 2015 legislative session. The compromise bill would give eligible residents of New Mexico a choice to go through the additional procedures to get a REAL ID compliant license and allow people who either do not want one, or who are ineligible for one, to keep their current driver's license that when renewed would state "not valid for federal identification purposes." 39% do not favor the compromise bill, while 5% have not formulated an opinion.

In regard to immigrants, a majority (69%) of registered voters in New Mexico prefer to allow undocumented immigrants to have driver's licenses that under the REAL ID Act would not be valid for federal identification purposes.  Only 29% do not think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to get a license.

"These numbers are almost identical to support levels from a poll of Hispanic registered voters conducted by Latino Decisions in New Mexico in 2012," said Gabriel Sanchez, "New Mexicans overwhelming support allowing undocumented immigrants to have driver's licenses, regardless of immigration status, and that these attitudes are stable over time"

Other poll results revealed that New Mexicans are breaking from the Governor's hardline views on immigration including the fate of Central American and Syrian refugees.

68% of registered voters in New Mexico believe that children and mothers fleeing violence and persecution in their Latin American countries should be able to stay here in the U.S. And 60% percent of voters polled oppose banning all Muslims and Syrian refugees from entering the United States compared to 36% who support this proposal and 4% who have not a formulated opinion.

"New Mexico has long history of passing sensible and compassionate policies towards immigrants meant to integrate our families, not alienate them," said Marcela Díaz of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "This data shows that attitudes of voters coincide with that powerful tradition.  Most New Mexicans can clearly see through the political pandering and misinformation promoted by certain elected leaders, while supporting common sense solutions to a broken immigration system."

Latino Decisions randomly interviewed 500 registered voters in New Mexico,

drawn from a representative statewide file of all households.  Respondents were contacted by cell phone, landline or online and completed a seven (7) minute survey.

To view Latino Decisions polling memo, click here.



Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell. Somos spearheaded a campaign in 2003 with law enforcement officials, victims rights agencies, and faith and civil rights groups to require qualified undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses, obtain insurance, and register their vehicles.