An article published on Sunday showed that despite those who argue that providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants would increase the number of insured drivers on the road, the number of uninsured drivers in New Mexico has hardly dropped since it began providing licenses to the undocumented in 2003.
As Fox News Latino reported:
“New Mexico continues to rank near the top of the list of states with the most uninsured drivers, consistently registering nearly twice the national average, according to the Insurance Research Council.
In 2000, before the law went into effect, 26.3 percent of New Mexico drivers were uninsured. In 2008, a year before Richardson left office, that number had jumped to 29.5 percent, making the state number one in the country for uninsured drivers. By 2009, the last year figures were available, the state dropped to second place with 25.7 percent of its drivers uninsured.”
Still, as the story points out, it’s hard to tell how many of New Mexico’s undocumented population is part of the uninsured and which part is made up of natural born citizens who just haven’t bought insurance coverage. That’s because since the law went into effect nearly a decade ago, undocumented immigrants from across the country have traveled to the Southwestern state to receive a New Mexico driver’s license — the only kind of driver’s license available to them in the United States.
The article highlights an instance when a van of undocumented Polish immigrants from Chicago drove over 1,000 miles to New Mexico to apply for driver’s license, and even though the undocumented population of New Mexico is only 49,000, the state’s Motor Vehicle Division has issued over 80,000 licenses to foreign nationals.
How many of these immigrants went back to their home states and were able to purchase car insurance coverage with their New Mexico licenses? It seems clear that if a person is so motivated to be within the law that they’re willing to drive hundreds of miles to receive an out-of-state driver’s license, you can reasonably suspect that such a person would then buy insurance once they have their driver’s license. Even within the scope of my own life, I know a handful of undocumented immigrants who, not possessing a driver’s themselves, are paying for car insurance under a relative’s or a friend’s name.
It’s in the interests of an undocumented driver to have both a license and insurance coverage, because it does no good to be able to show your license to a police officer if you can’t also produce proof of insurance. Undocumented immigrants want no more trouble with the law than they already have by virtue of being in this country.
Providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants allows them to purchase insurance easier, which many — if not most — do.