New Mexico woman indicted over immigrant driver licenses

SANTA FE, New Mexico Thu Aug 4, 2011 10:33pm EDT

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SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - An Albuquerque woman was indicted on Thursday on charges of creating fraudulent residency documents to help illegal immigrants get New Mexico driver's licenses.

New Mexico is currently one of three states, including Utah and Washington, that allow undocumented immigrants to lawfully obtain driver's licenses if they can show proof of residency and identity.

The grand jury indictment accuses Ana Hernandez, 45, of more than 300 felony counts over accusations she used her Albuquerque business address on documents she fraudulently created for Mexican nationals so they could obtain licenses.

"This is yet another egregious case that shows we're attracting criminal elements to our state for the sole purpose of obtaining driver's licenses," Republican Governor Susana Martinez said in a statement.

"Our driver's licenses have been compromised and we're not only putting our residents at risk, but those living in other states as well," she added.

Martinez has urged lawmakers to change the driver's license rules during a special legislative session next month. The New Mexico state Senate had in March rejected a proposal that would have outlawed such licenses for illegal immigrants.

"The current law says that if you are a foreign national without a Social Security number you can get a driver's license with two proofs of residency and identity," said S.U. Mahesh, a spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Revenue.

He said the residency papers could include such documents as a lease agreement, utility bill or bank statement. Personal identity proof requires a birth certificate, passport or Mexican identification card issued by the Mexican consulates.

Hernandez remains free on bond from a previous drug case.

The indictment said she translated documents for foreign nationals, fraudulently signed the documents using different names and then notarized the signatures.

She is also accused of signing as both translator and notary on birth certificates translated from Spanish into English. When the state required different signatures, Hernandez used three aliases to sign as the translator, and then signed her own name as the notary.

Mahesh said the state had canceled 29 driver's licenses bearing her Albuquerque business address.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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