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In New Mexico, Gov. Martinez Alienates Latino Voters by Pushing Anti-Immigrant Legislation

by Mahwish Khan on 09/02/2011 at 2:12pm

Driver's License New MexicoHere’s some more proof that having a Latino last name won’t make you particularly popular with the Latino crowd

In New Mexico, Governor Susana Martínez and her GOP buddies are pushing to repeal a law enacted in 2003 that allows all residents of New Mexico to apply for a driver’s license. An immigrant advocacy group, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, is mobilizing its members to take action against the Governor’s move. The group maintains that it would “have disasterous consequences for public safety in New Mexico” and that Martinez is only targeting immigrants for political gain.  The press release from Somos Un Pueblo Unido states that the Martiez legislation is being used to intimidate immigrant families.  That’s not far-fetched, given the scope and effects of anti-immigrant laws that have passed in other states – like neighboring Arizona, for example.

Last month, Martínez announced her “residency verification plan.” According to Fox News Latino:

Under the residency verification plan, New Mexico sent notices to people that they must schedule an in-person appointment and bring documents, such as a utility bill or lease agreement, to prove they live in the state. The administration plans to cancel licenses of people who no longer are New Mexico residents.

Martínez wants the Legislature to repeal New Mexico’s license policy by requiring people to have a Social Security number, which is not available to someone living in the country illegally, to obtain a driver’s license. The governor’s proposal failed in the Legislature earlier this year but she’s renewing her push when lawmakers return to work next week in a special session.

Luckily, Elise Kaplan at alibi.com has some good news for immigrant rights advocates in the state – at least in the short term:

Yesterday, a District Court judge in Santa Fe, Sarah Singleton, issued a temporary halt to the gov’s push. The order came in response to a lawsuit brought against the Taxation and Revenue Department. Freedman Boyd, working with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, filed the suit. He says Martinez’ license verification effort violates the separation of powers between New Mexico’s executive and legislative branches.

“We think it’s a great step towards ending this unconstitutional action once and for all,” says David Urias, an lawyer who also worked on the lawsuit. “We believe the courts will step in and stop it.”

Hopefully, they will. For more on the damaging effects of repealing the law, check out this fact sheet and sign the petition.  

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