The Senate has rejected a Republican-backed proposal to stop New Mexico from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
The Senate voted 24-17 Wednesday night against a proposal that would have ended the practice of granting licenses to foreign nationals without a Social Security number.
Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, said it's a public safety risk to issue licenses to those living in this country illegally. But Democrats said the move was politically motivated and targeted Mexican immigrants.
Under a 2003 law, more than 80,000 driver's licenses have gone to foreign nationals. The state says it doesn't know how many of those went to illegal immigrants because it doesn't ask the immigration status of license applicants.
Three states _ New Mexico, Washington and Utah _ allow illegal immigrants to get licenses because their laws do not require proof of citizenship.