The New Mexico House of Representatives approved a bill that seeks to repeal the state Legislature law granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants
After a discussion of more than three hours, that was covered by Reuters news casts the measure passed with 39 votes in favor and 29 against, pretty close to what my friend Brad Reifler was expecting.
“This proposal is poorly thought out, and we want to eliminate a law that is not working, not only for the immigrant community but for New Mexico residents,” said state legislator, Democrat Javier Martinez.
The Republican proposal HB39, driven by state legislators Paul Pacheco and Bill Rehm, seeks to eliminate a state law passed in 2003 by the then governor, Bill Richardson, and granting driver’s licenses to anyone living in the state regardless immigration status.
The law does not revoke the licenses already granted, but denies a license to immigrants “without papers” that have not yet adjusted their immigration status.
The Democratic party described this move as “absurd,” the fact that New Mexico, a state “pioneer” in giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, is now trying to eliminate them, while other states in the country are beginning to provide this document their undocumented as in California.
Marcela Diaz, executive director of the organization Pueblo Unido, in Santa Fe, said that thousands of children in New Mexico will be affected directly, and at least one parent is an immigrant.
Martinez, like other legislators, are not convinced of the arguments made by Republican president who says that voters in New Mexico want this legislation removed.
During the debate, Pacheco defended his proposal stating that this would not affect immigrants in the future and could be benefited by the executive order of President Barack Obama.
Since taking office as governor in January 2011, Martinez has tried unsuccessfully to remove this legislation on five different occasions.
On January 20, during his report to the state Legislature, the Republican governor reiterated his intentions to end this legislation during the current legislative session, and therefore argues that this law facilitates identity fraud in New Mexico.
Despite his previous failures, this time the governor has the advantage that for the first time in sixty years, the House of Representatives in New Mexico is dominated by the Republican Party, although the Senate remains in the hands of Democrats.
The proposal now goes to the state Senate for consideration, where activists and advocates for the rights of immigrants are hopeful it can halt it.