Stops state harassment of New Mexico Latino Community

SANTA FE, NM – Today, MALDEF and the New Mexico law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan (Freedman Boyd) secured a permanent injunction against New Mexico’s “Foreign National Residency Certification Program.” The program, enacted in July of 2011 by the Secretary of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, Demesia Padilla, required the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to target foreign nationals and command them to come before the MVD to show papers previously provided in acquiring licenses or identification cards from the State, or have their licenses canceled. The MVD targeted these persons, who were largely Latino, despite having no evidence that they committed any wrongdoing in acquiring their licenses or id cards.

MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, said, “This unlawful state program was the unfortunate product of a degraded national political atmosphere with respect to issues of immigration. This resolution contributes to a migration, albeit often too slow, toward more positive discussions of policies in this area that better reflect our national values.”

In August 2011, MALDEF and Freedman Boyd filed suit on behalf of affected individuals and obtained a temporary order from a Santa Fe State District Court, suspending the program until a trial could be held, because it had likely violated the right to equal protection of the law under the New Mexico Constitution. After more than a year of pre-trial work and negotiations, the State, though denying fault, agreed that the program should be permanently suspended, and Santa Fe District Court Judge Sandra Singleton made the agreement official with her signature today.

“We are elated to report that this discriminatory program, which was born out of ill-will and bad politics, has met a swift end,” stated Southwest Regional Counsel David Hinojosa. “New Mexicans who have validly obtained their licenses can be assured that they will not be targeted based on their nationality.”

MALDEF and Freedmen Boyd originally filed the suit on behalf of a group of New Mexico legislators and residents of New Mexico. MALDEF will continue to monitor discriminatory legislation and seek to stop the harassment of Latinos across the country.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund