Immigrant License Fraud Increases

Tim Maestas, KASA-TV (Santa Fe), May 17, 2011

New Mexico’s appeal to foreign criminals eager to exploit a state law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses is increasing.

However, state investigators are trying to blunt that trend by using new tools to track the license requests and identify possible fraud before the licenses can be issued.

“This problem is only growing bigger by the day,” said Alvan Romero, who heads up a team of fraud investigators for the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department. {snip}

A change in state law in 2003 allows foreign nationals to obtain drivers licenses in New Mexico regardless of their immigration status. However, the rules require applicants to live in the state of New Mexico.

{snip}

At one point, up to 18 states issued drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Now only New Mexico and Washington do it. And while instances of fraud are up in New Mexico, the state has tweaked its policies to be able to better sniff out the bad guys.

{snip}

{snip} Applicants whose documents pass the test are issued a temporary driver’s license. The application is then passed on to Romero’s team of investigators, who many times catch things MVD agents may have missed.

According to a breakdown of phone numbers gathered during the application process, 37 percent of the 16,000 requests received between August 2010 and April 2011 came from out-of-state. Most came from Arizona, Georgia, and Texas.

{snip}

Another breakdown shows some phone numbers used dozens of times to make appointments. One New Mexico number was used 228 times. A phone number with an Arizona area code was used 24 times.

A similar list shows the same pattern with New Mexico addresses. One address in Albuquerque was used more than 70 times in the application process.

{snip}

Among those busted so far have been two Costa Rican nationals, who were arrested in April and September of last year, and accused of providing fake lease agreements so other Costa Rican nationals from New Jersey could get New Mexico licenses.

A group of Chinese nationals also were arrested late last year, accused of providing dozens of out-of-state Chinese immigrants with fraudulent residency documents.

Two Albuquerque women were arrested for selling their own addresses so 60 illegal immigrants could provide fake proof of residency.

{snip}

More than 80,000 New Mexico licenses have been issued to foreign nationals since 2003. Last year alone, 24,000 were issued. That means many fakes are slipping through the system, Romero said.

“These licenses are out there,” Romero said. “They legitimize people. They’re very, very valuable.”

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  • Crystal

    I am not surprised at all. In Tennessee, a driving privilege card was at one time offered to illegal immigrants. The program was stopped after busloads of out of state illegals would come to TN to get these cards after paying off crooked motor vehicle workers to issue them. The program was dropped after this.

  • Anonymous

    We are so stupid to allow them being in our country in the first place, let alone give them anything.

    Now the question is, will they buy auto insurance? The government will probably pay for that also, for these ‘poor’ illegals.

  • Anonymous

    It is stupid and fraudulent to US citizens to grant DL’s to illegals. Immigrant sanctuaries like LA are fraud capitals where immigrants make big $ bus of fraudulent docs.

    The main problem will never go away until immigration laws are enforced. More and more continue to come without repsect for US because Feds allow it! Fed immigration laws need to be enforced. US citizens/taxpayers deserve no less.

  • Anonymous

    I lived in New Mexico during the Gary Johnson administration. My car was hit twice, both times by uninsured illegals. I understand Mr. Johnson is NOT for immigration enforcement.

  • Anonymous

    Three Things:

    1. 24,000 / 365 = 65.75 cases per day. Divide that by 8 people who are essentially using ‘remote imaging’ (satellite, high in the sky) capabilities to statistically monitor database frequencies and weightings. Maybe they can do it. I guarantee you they aren’t doing it by personal interviews or at-house investigations. I also guarantee that the spanish speaking case officers are the first point of corruption vulnerability because they will be _familiar_ to everyone. And either you go along to get along. Or the community (and they will clump up, Mexicans always do) never talks to you.

    2. How much of this translates to other means of identity builiding? Where are the further vulnerabilities in terms of buying SS# Birth Certificates and the like? Even a temporary ID might get you a library card. Or a phone/utility/garbage bill. And from there you move outwards.

    3. There is no ignoring what an influx of 24,000 foreign nationals whose Mexican Driving Habits are a _proven_ demolition derby is going to do to our insurance rates. If they are so damn essential to our industry and agro, why can we not instead use E-Verify to put these people on a Logan’s Run style time out with limited stays and _full cost_ insurance? See, you folks want them gone by denying services. I want them gone by being forced to live our lifestyle our way. And a Mexican who catches himself 5 tickets for DUI (or failure to observe traffic signs because he can’t read English) is _never_ going to be insured. If he can’t be insured then he can’t get to work. And now it’s up to the Chipotle Grill type places to find a way for this guy to get to work. And they won’t. Because suddenly they are eating into their slave-labor economics.

    And the Mexican goes home unemployed as much as for zeroed welfare.

  • Anonymous

    Living in WA state, I see most of the illegals here don’t bother to get either a driver’s licence or insurance (supposedly required by law). We legal WA citizens have to pay through the nose and get the “uninsured motorist” rider on our insurance to protect ourselves from them.