MVD faces lawsuit over new identification system

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Community members are joining forces to go after MVD. They say what they’ve been putting customers through isn’t just frustrating, it’s illegal, and now they’re suing.

From day one, New Mexicans have been sharing stories about the hassle of trying to get driver’s licences under the federal Real ID act. It requires a lot of documentation, but it’s not just Real ID seekers running into trouble.

“Even though I went to MVD four times, with several different documents including my passport… I was turned away,” former Santa Fe mayor David Coss said.

Coss is one of the New Mexicans trying to get a driver’s authorization card (DAC).

The state legislature established the second-tier license in 2016. It was meant as an easy alternative for those who don’t qualify for a Real ID license because they aren’t U.S. citizens, or simply don’t want one, like Coss.

“Nothing I took to MVD was good enough. I even had a letter from social security, and that didn’t work,” Coss said.

Coss has now joined local activist groups “Somos un Pueblo Unido” and “The Coalition to End Homelessness” in a class action lawsuit against MVD.

They say the agency is requiring unnecessary documents to get a DAC, like a social security card.

“Unfortunately this administration from the very beginning failed to implement the law correctly,” Marcela Diaz with Somos un Pueblo Unido said.

The group says the practice is illegal and a problem for undocumented immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, seniors, and others.

For those whose applications are denied, the group also wants a clear-cut appeals process.

“I want to make them follow the law, so that I and so many others can get back to our daily lives,” Coss said.

When asked for a response to the allegations, MVD issued the following statement:

This is the latest in their long line of political stunts. Our two-tiered compromise is a result of bipartisan legislation that ends the dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and brings New Mexico into compliance with the Federal Real ID law.

On background, these handful of isolated examples are out of nearly 35,000 Driver’s Authorization Cards and over 527,000 Real ID compliant driver’s licenses that we’ve issued since HB 99 went into effect.

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