House Republicans nearly get vote on NM’s contentious driver’s license repeal bill
Democrats control the House 38-32, meaning Republicans needed to swing four votes to win the day.
It almost happened, in part because of divisions between Democrats and a confounded freshman lawmaker pushing the wrong voting button.
House members first voted 36-34 to advance the driver’s license bill out of the labor committee and into the judiciary committee.
Rep. Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces was among the Democrats who joined Republicans to start the GOP effort on a winning note.
This jarred some because Garcia always has supported the law giving immigrants driver’s licenses.
In an interview afterward, Garcia said she wanted the driver’s license repeal bill to be heard on the floor for one reason: “I wanted to vote against it,” she said.
But then Garcia also said she was upset with fellow Democrats who had stalled her bill on mandatory retentions of third-graders in the bottom tier on reading scores.
“Democrats voted against my bill. Democrats don’t support Democrats,” Garcia said.
With Garcia frustrated with fellow Democrats and siding with Republicans, the move to advance the licensing repeal won its first round.
In a second vote of the House, members decided 36-34 to immediately move the bill from the Judiciary Committee to its last committee assignment in finance and appropriations.
Freshman Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, had voted with the Republicans in the first round. She switched her vote the second time. That should have stopped the bill’s advance on a 35-35 tie vote.
But another newcomer, Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, pushed the wrong voting button. She cast her vote for the Republican cause, giving the rival party another victory.
Trujillo appealed to House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, a fierce opponent of the driver’s license repeal. But Speaker Martinez showed no partisanship in his ruling. He said the vote total had been announced and that Trujillo’s ballot for the Republican cause would stand.
With this, Republicans were on the cusp of bringing a dead bill back to life and all the way to a vote of the 70-member House.
Democrats finally stopped the bill’s advance on a 35-35 vote. Trujillo hit the correct button that time and Garcia Richard stuck with the Democrats.
In addition to Mary Helen Garcia, two Democrats voted consistently with the Republicans. They were Dona Irwin of Deming and Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint.
Afterward, Richard gave a confusing explanation for her votes for and then against advancing the repeal bill.
She said she campaigned on repealing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and still wants that to happen. Asked why she then flip-flopped on taking the bill to a floor vote, she said she wanted it heard in committee to make sure it was as good a piece of legislation as it could be.
Emotions ran high all day.
Rep. Antonio Maestas, D-Albuquerque, criticized Gov. Martinez for paying more attention to driver’s licenses than what he called more important issues.
“I wish this much time and energy was devoted to our economy,” Maestas said.
Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, was harsher toward the governor.
“This bill is a political game,” he said. “It’s a waste of time to bring it before the body.”
Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, had presented the bill for consideration. Gentry said it was an important public safety issue, and that New Mexico residents want the law repealed.
The will of the labor committee that blocked the repeal was not the will of the full 70-member House, Gentry said.
Another licensing bill that Gov. Martinez favors was been blocked in the state Senate on Tuesday. With 10 days left in the session, the Republicans have only a long-shot chance to get a repeal bill through both chambers.
Had the licensing repeal been voted on by the House, it probably would have been approved. House members for two years in succession have voted to repeal the licensing law. Both of those bills died in the Senate.
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at email@example.com or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com
GOP effort to force House floor vote on license bill falls short
By Steve Terrell | The New Mexican Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 – 3/6/13
An attempt to force a House vote on a bill that would repeal the state law allowing New Mexico to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants fell short on Wednesday.
Although Republicans were successful in getting House Bill 606 out of the House Labor and Human Resources Committee — which had tabled the measure last week — a subsequent tally of the full House to “blast” the bill out of another committee was one vote shy of getting the bill onto the House floor.
Technically, the bill still is alive. However, the clock is ticking on the session, which ends at noon March 16. To get to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk, the bill also would have to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate. A Senate committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to kill a similar bill.
The driver’s license issue has been a priority of Martinez, who made repeal of the 2003 law, which was championed by her predecessor, Bill Richardson, a major issue in her campaign.
In the previous two sessions, the House passed repeal bills, which went on to die in the Senate. However, last year Republicans lost two seats in the House, which weakened support for the repeal in the Legislature.
House Republican Whip Nate Gentry of Albuquerque led the charge in trying to blast the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque.
Gentry said the House should debate the issue because there’s support among New Mexico voters to repeal the 2003 law. The latest form of the bill, he said, is less restrictive than the bills approved by the House the previous two years. “It’s a good compromise, and every attempt that we’ve made to address this issue has failed,” he said.
HB 606 would provide temporary licenses to those immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are covered by an executive order issued last year by President Barack Obama deferring deportation. But no licenses would be issued to other immigrants who illegally crossed the border.
But opponents say the bill is not a real compromise. The young immigrants covered by Obama’s order are considered to be lawfully in the country and thus can get work permits and Social Security numbers, which allow them to get a regular driver’s license in New Mexico.
In opposing the blast, Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, noted there are more than 600 bills that have been introduced in the House this year. “This is the most important issue to bring to this body’s attention at this time?” he chided Gentry. “How many jobs does this bill create? … I think getting New Mexicans back to work is the most important issue.”
Freshman Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard, D-Los Alamos, was one of four Democrats to join Republicans in voting to blast the bill on the first vote, 36-34, which removed the bill from the Labor Committee, where it had been tabled. However, she later voted against removing the bill from the Judiciary and Appropriations and Finance committees.
After the hearing, Garcia-Richard said she voted to move the bill out of the Labor Committee because she wanted to give it to a committee that would give it “more input.”
“I have some real issues with the bill,” she said. Many of her constituents are concerned that the licenses granted by the state are not compliant with the federal Real ID Act, which eventually might mean state licence-holders would have to use other forms of ID — such as a birth certificate or a U.S. passport — to board planes or enter federal buildings. “It still needs a lot of work,” she said.
The Real ID issue has become a major selling point for Martinez and others who want to repeal the driver’s license law. However, opponents of the bill point out that only 19 states have licenses that comply with the federal law and many have passed laws prohibiting compliance with the Real ID Act. The government has pushed back the deadline for compliance several times since Congress passed the law in 2005.
In her successful campaign for her legislative seat last year, Garcia-Richard repeatedly said she would vote to repeal the 2003 law allowing the undocumented to get driver’s licenses.
While Garcia-Richard voted against moving the bill out of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, voted in favor of the blast, so again the vote was 36-34. Moments after the vote was announced, Trujillo said she had accidentally pushed the wrong button and that she meant to vote no. However, according to House rules, her nay vote stood, so the bill was moved to the appropriations panel, where the House deadlocked on a 35-35 vote.
The Democrats who voted to blast the bill on all the votes taken Wednesday were Rep. Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces, Donna Irwin of Deming and Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint.
Like New Mexico, the state of Washington allows regular driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Utah grants a special driving permit to immigrants that can’t be used for identification. Illinois passed a law this year allowing special licenses for undocumented immigrants, but the new licenses won’t be available for several months.
Contact Steve Terrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com.
Immigrant driver’s license bill still in committee after GOP fails to force issue to NM House
SANTA FE, New Mexico — Allies of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez narrowly failed Wednesday in trying to revive legislation to stop New Mexico from issuing driver’s licenses to most illegal immigrants.
A Martinez-backed license proposal has been bottled up in a House committee by majority Democrats, most likely dooming the bill as time runs out in the legislative session. Lawmakers will adjourn in 10 days and similar license legislation has stalled in the Senate.
Republicans — aided by a handful of Democrats — tried a rarely successful procedural move to bypass three House committees assigned to review the bill. That would have advanced the measure to the 70-member House for debate and a vote, with a strong chance that it could pass as occurred the past two years.
The effort fell one vote short, but there’s still a possibility the bill could reach the House before the Legislature ends. Even if that happens, the measure would face problems in the Senate, which has turned down license restrictions since Martinez took office in 2011.
Democratic Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe described the procedural maneuvering as a “political game” by the governor’s supporters.
“Once again, we’re attempting to divert this body’s attention to an issue that is not at the forefront of the most pressing needs of this state,” said Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat.
New Mexico and Washington state allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same driver’s license as a U.S. citizen. Utah grants a special driving permit to immigrants that can’t be used for identification.
House GOP Whip Nate Gentry of Albuquerque said the House should debate the license measure because there’s support among New Mexico voters for ending licenses for illegal immigrants — a policy that Martinez made a centerpiece of her campaign in 2010.
The latest legislation, he said, is less restrictive than what the House has approved the past two years.
“I think the legislation has merit. It’s a good compromise and every attempt that we’ve made to address this issue has failed,” Gentry said.
The measure would provide temporary driver’s licenses to younger immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are covered by a federal policy deferring deportation. However, no licenses would be issued to other immigrants who illegally came to the country.
Besides those temporary licenses for some immigrants, the legislation would provide for a new driver’s license for state residents to comply with the federal Real ID Act, which would permit it to be used as identification in the future to board airliners.
Democrats contend there’s no compromise in the legislation, however. The immigrant youth covered by the federal policy are considered to be lawfully in the country, can obtain work permits and receive Social Security numbers, which would entitle them to a traditional driver’s license in New Mexico and many other states.
The House agreed on 36-34 votes to move the bill around two committees but deadlocked 35-35 on steering it around the final committee and to the House.
The series of votes left the license measure pending in the Appropriations and Finance Committee, where Democrats hold a 10-8 edge in membership. However, two Democrats on the panel voted last year for a bill to end licenses for illegal immigrants.
After a similar parliamentary move in 2011, the House voted to end licenses for illegal immigrants. That measure died in the Senate, which blocked a similar license proposal last year.
N.M. driver’s license law bill appears dead for another year
Alamogordo Daily News By Milan Simonich, Texas-New Mexico Newspapersalamogordonews.com
Posted: 03/05/2013 09:54:40 PM MST
SANTA FE Gov. Susana Martinez’s attempt to repeal a controversial driver’s license law appears dead for another year.The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday night blocked a bill that would have ended the state’s practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who have proof of New Mexico residency.
Committee members voted 5-3 against the bill. Every Democrat opposed it and all the Republicans supported it.The bill sponsor, Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, submitted a redrawn bill at the last minute that could have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain driving privilege cards good for one year.
Currently, those without proof of immigration status can obtain a regular New Mexico driver’s license good for up to eight years.Ingle’s bill came under heavy opposition from a crowd of 100 and Democrats on the Senate committee. Though some people billed the measure as a compromise, critics of the plan said it was not.
Under Ingle’s bill, younger immigrants who have lawful presence in the United States through a federal program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would have been granted privilege cards to drive.
Thirty-seven states, including New Mexico, now grant these childhood arrivals full driver’s licenses.In a belated addition to the bill, Ingle added a provision to allow illegal immigrants to obtain similar driving permits.
His proposal appeared to put substantial authority in the hands of the secretary of taxation and revenue to establish guidelines for licensing illegal immigrants.But if the federal program for childhood arrivals were ever terminated, Ingle’s bill called for ending all driver’s licenses for foreign nationals without proof of immigration status.
Sen. Timothy Keller, D-Albuquerque, said he could have supported a bill to crack down on licensing fraud, but he would not support Ingle’s proposal.Creating different tiers of driver’s license was not the right way to reform the law, Keller said. He said Ingle’s idea would have had a profound negative effect on his International District in Albuquerque.
A committee in the House of Representatives last week blocked another repeal bill. Still another bill by Democratic Sen. Pete Campos of Las Vegas still is to be heard. Campos’ bill, as drafted, would provide for two-year driving privilege cards for foreign nationals.
Campos’ bill also was to be heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday night, but he asked that it be temporarily delayed.In addition to Ivey-Soto and Keller, the Democrats who voted to block Ingle’s bill were Sens. Bill O’Neill, Gerald Ortiz y Pino and Jacob Candelaria, all of Albuquerque.All of them praised Ingle for trying to find a solution to a divisive issue. All said his proposal was unacceptable.
Voting for Ingle’s bill were Republican Sens. Ron Griggs of Alamogordo, Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho and Gay Kernan of Hobbs. But even Brandt said he thought full drivers licenses for those immigrants with lawful status would have been fair. Ingle said that, with his bill tabled, he doubted it could be revived in the last 10 days of the legislative session.
Lawmaker says driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants are all about humanity
By Milan Simonich, Texas-New Mexico Newspapersdemingheadlight.com
Posted: 02/28/2013 03:14:01 PM MST
He was the commissioner of Major League Baseball when 15 of the 16 team owners voted to keep black players off the same field as whites.
In a stunning act of courage, Chandler overturned his bosses’ decision. He opened the way for Jackie Robinson to become the Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman for the 1947 season.
Robinson smashed the color barrier, becoming the first black man in the modern era to play in the major leagues. Chandler supplied the sledgehammer.
Chandler later explained why he bucked the baseball owners: “I thought someday I’d have to meet my maker and he’d say, ‘What did you do with those black boys?’ ”
At the Capitol, a lanky raconteur, state Rep. Miguel Garcia, approaches his job in the style of Happy Chandler.
Garcia, D-Albuquerque, is the legislator who fights hardest and unapologetically to retain the 2003 law that enables illegal immigrants living in New Mexico to obtain a state driver’s license.
The licensing law did not attract much attention until 2010, when Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez promised to repeal it. Martinez won the election and has since been battling the Democrat-controlled Legislature over driver’s licenses.
She says the licensing law is dangerous, that it invites fraud and leaves the state vulnerable to other crimes. She wants it wiped off the books.
Garcia fights back without raising his voice.Yes, there are con men who try to defraud the state, he says. But mostly the driver’s license law helps people because it is enlightened and humane.With it, he says, people doing jobs that Americans will not touch drive to work without fear, earn a paycheck, support their family and help fuel the state’s economy.Some who benefit from the licensing law are children born in the United States, Garcia says.
Others arrived as babies, brought along by immigrant parents.Last week, as the license fight flared again, Garcia publicly read a letter from a boy named Cesar Quesada. Cesar, the son of an organic farmer, arrived in the United States at age 3.
In a letter to the archbishop of Santa Fe, Cesar said he appreciated the driver’s license law because it enabled his parents to drive him to myriad doctors’ appointments and treatmentsfor the cancer that he lived with for 11 years.Cesar underwent 17 surgeries and eight separate rounds of chemotherapy.
He died last September at age 17, but not before thanking Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan for being a tireless advocate for the licensing law.Garcia says Cesar’s short life exemplifies the good but forgotten side of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. It helped a farmer and his sick boy, and it helps untold thousands of others each day, he said.
The lobbyist for New Mexico’s chile industry says Mexican nationals are the labor force harvesting the state’s famous green peppers. The average age of these laborers is 60.
Rep. Phillip Archuleta, D-Las Cruces, has seen their cars parked next to the fields as they harvest a crop precious to the state’s economy and image.
Archuleta, a freshman legislator, stands with Garcia on the licensing law. Archuleta said he would not support a repeal, but he is open to a compromise that would help curb fraud while maintaining the essential framework of the law.
Both legislators have listened to every counterargument, especially the most pitched battle cry: “Illegal is illegal. What part of that don’t you understand?”
They say life is not so simple, that by helping immigrants who help New Mexico businesses, the law the governor denounces is putting money in the state treasury.
“People are going to drive to work whether they have licenses or not. I look at it as a public safety issue,” Archuleta said.
Those with licenses have to learn the rules of the road and they are listed in police databases, he said.
As for Garcia, he cares not about polls that say the licensing law is wildly unpopular with state residents. He knows he will never persuade the opposing side, but he is undaunted.
Like Happy Chandler all those years ago, Garcia believes a stand that can be unpopular also can be right.
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at email@example.com or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com
NM House committee again blocks driver’s license bill favored by governor
By Milan Simonich / Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, lcsun-news.com
Posted: 02/26/2013 08:47:32 PM MST
SANTA FE — Democrats on the House labor committee on Tuesday night blocked another bill that would repeal the 2003 law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses.
The vote was 5-4 along party lines. The sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque, said afterward he did not know if he would appeal to the full House of Representatives to hear his license bill.
Pacheco said he considered it unfair that one committee could “hold a bill hostage.” He said 37 of the 70 members of the House of Representatives had signed onto his bill, which he called a compromise.
But Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, said he pored over Pacheco’s bill but could not find any compromise at all. Neither did the Catholic bishops of New Mexico. They called for a compromise proposal this winter, but sent a spokesman to oppose Pacheco’s bill as one that did not fit the description.
Pacheco said his latest bill was indeed a compromise because it would allow one group of immigrants with lawful presence in the country — classified as those on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — to receive temporary New Mexico licenses.
But Elsa Lopez, of the immigrant group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said that the bill actually was “a step back” from Pacheco’s initial measure in that it was more restrictive.
Proponents of the existing licensing law testified that immigrants contribute mightily to the state economy, working on farms and in oil fields.
They said granting immigrants licenses improves public safety because they must pass driving tests and are listed in police databases.
Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, cited an Albuquerque Journal poll that showed about three of four people oppose licenses for illegal immigrants. She said the public wants an up-or-down vote on the licensing bill, not endless committee debates.
House Speaker Ken Martinez said the poll was tilted based on the way the question was asked.
Martinez said he did not believe Democrats and Republicans on the committee were far apart in reaching an agreement on a licensing bill. But Martinez, like all the Democrats on the committee, eventually voted to table Pacheco’s bill.
Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, campaigned in 2010 on repealing the licensing law. Pacheco’s bill was the latest attempt at getting through the legislation she wants.
A companion bill to Pacheco’s has been introduced in the state Senate. It has not been heard yet.
Another bill, by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, would allow illegal immigrants to continue driving. But they would receive privilege cards, not regular licenses that also could be used as government-issued identification.
If Pacheco tries to revive his bill, he would have less than three weeks to get it through the House and the Senate. The legislative session ends March 16.
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com.
Compromise driver’s license bill tabled
SANTA FE — A compromise proposal on the controversial granting of New Mexico driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants was tabled at least temporarily in a House committee late Tuesday after Democrats said it failed to help some immigrants.
House Bill 606, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, would allow citizens and legal immigrants to get a newly designed driver’s license that would comply with the federal REAL ID Act when their current licenses expire.
The Pacheco proposal would create a second, unique driver’s license for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have been granted deferred immigration action status by the federal government.
Specifically, the unique license would be for people falling under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status President Barack Obama ordered in 2012 for children of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
The unique license for illegal immigrants would not be good for identification purposes outside of New Mexico, according to the bill.
Gov. Susana Martinez and legislative Republicans have endorsed the bill as a compromise, shifting from past opposition to any driving privileges for illegal immigrants. The bill is co-sponsored by 37 members of the 70-member House.
But Democrats in the House Labor and Human Resources Committee said the bill doesn’t do enough to address a need for immigrants without the deferred action status to drive legally in New Mexico.
Illegal immigrants who have not been granted a deferred action status would lose all driving privileges in New Mexico under the proposal.
The bill was tabled on a 5-4 vote along party lines.
“I think we all agree on the kids under (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals),” said House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants. “The question is what do we do with the parents. That’s the last piece.”
Although Speaker Martinez said Republicans and Democrats were close to finding compromise on the bill, no amendments were proposed to address concerns Democratic members raised Tuesday during a three-hour hearing.
The committee earlier in the legislative session tabled a previous version of Pacheco’s bill that, without any special exceptions, would have repealed the 2003 law that allows driver’s licenses to be issued to illegal immigrants. That measure was passed by the full House last year but died in the Senate.
Republican members asked for Pacheco’s new bill to be moved forward for other committees to make changes with the legislative session nearing its March 16 adjournment.
“Let’s do something about this, let’s do something about this now,” said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell. “It needs to go for a (full House) vote, it doesn’t need to be held up in a committee. We’re running out of time here, and this bill not only this year and the year before has been stalled right here.”
The House Labor and Human Relations Committee chairman, Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, said the bill would not be reconsidered in committee until changes are proposed to expand eligibility for illegal immigrants to have driving privileges.
Governor’s spokesman Enrique Knell said the proposal deserves to be moved on to the full House for consideration.
“Gov. Martinez has worked in a bipartisan manner for this compromise that has 37 co-sponsors and it deserves a full up or down vote in the House,” Knell said.
The Pacheco bill mirrored legislation introduced in the Senate by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. A hearing on that Senate version of the bill is scheduled in the Senate Public Affairs Committee on Friday.
Supporters of the bill have said the proposal for two tiers of driver’s licenses is necessary for New Mexico to comply with the REAL ID Act — the 2005 law passed by Congress to set security standards required for state driver’s licenses to be accepted as identification to board a commercial airplane or enter a federal building.
The Department of Homeland Security has not said when it would begin to enforce those rules.
However, immigrants granted deferred action status are eligible for a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, according to the federal statutes.
Since Obama’s executive order, at least 19 states that previously prohibited illegal immigrants from legally driving have initiated efforts to issue driver’s licenses to immigrants with deferred action status.
Some critics of the compromise New Mexico proposal have said that granting deferred action immigrants a non-REAL ID license would be a step backward. They say it would force immigrants considered to be lawfully present in the U.S. to use a lower-tier license that would not be allowed for federal identification purposes.
California voters want driver’s licenses, other privileges for illegal immigrants
Attitudes are changing fast: This marks the first time a majority of voters have turned thumbs-up on driver’s licenses since the Field Poll began asking the question in 2005.
But voters indicated the welcome mat should extend only to immigrants already living in the state.
Californians still believe that too many people have entered the state illegally, he said.
“But so many live here now who are in limbo in terms of their legal status that the public is coming around to the view that we have to attend to that,” DiCamillo said.
The survey comes at a time when both major political parties are courting support from Latinos, who are expected to constitute a majority of California’s population by 2025.
Embracing longtime residents who entered the country illegally is not new, but the trends are steady and reaching substantial proportions.
Nine of every 10 voters support creating a path to citizenship; 76 percent support temporary worker programs; 60 percent, residency college tuition; and 52 percent, driver’s licenses.
Former lawmaker Gilbert Cedillo, a Los Angeles Democrat who tried unsuccessfully for nearly a decade to give undocumented drivers the legal right to drive, applauded the poll results but said he’s not surprised by them.
The issue has been a lightning rod for divisiveness, but that is changing now as leaders of both major parties beat the drum for immigration reform, Cedillo said.
Offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have lived in California for a number of years, have a job, learned English and paid back taxes is supported across the board: 95 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of other voters backed the concept, DiCamillo said.
“The viewpoint, I believe, of most Californians is that immigrants are hardworking,” Cedillo said, adding that almost everyone knows a landscaper, restaurant worker, child care provider, or some other laborer who was not born in California but has lived a productive life in the state.
New legislation to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants was proposed recently. Assembly Bill 60 would qualify anyone who has a federal taxpayer identification number or “any other document” that the Department of Motor Vehicles finds “clearly establishes the identity of the applicant.”
The issue of driver’s licenses remains highly partisan: 66 percent of Democrats support it, but only 27 percent of Republicans do.
Lionel Bell, a 79-year-old Sacramentan surveyed by the Field Poll, said he could support granting driver’s licenses and citizenship to undocumented immigrants only if they are longtime residents.
“If they’ve been here for 10 years or something like that, with no problems, they’re not criminals, they’re working, paying their taxes – certainly, give them an opportunity. Why not?” said Bell, a Democrat and retired state worker.
Bobby Loyd, 82, turned thumbs down on driver’s licenses but says he “100 percent” favors providing a pathway to citizenship.
The nation was created on a foundation of embracing newcomers and “we were all illegal at one time, our folks were,” said Loyd, a retired Bakersfield resident who once worked in manufacturing.
Loyd said he supports border control, but added, “We’ve got enough laws already passed if we just enforce the ones we’ve already got.”
Carol Kincaid, a Sacramento Republican who said she’s “in my 60s,” said she supports setting performance standards for a path to citizenship, not just rubber-stamping any longtime resident.
“I think everyone has the right to a better place, but I think you need to do it the right way,” said Kincaid, a retired state worker.
Like a majority of Californians, Kincaid wants to see the state’s borders protected from illegal immigration – but she isn’t sure how.
“I don’t know what the solution is – you’d think they would have done it by now if there was one,” she said.
Increasing the number of federal border agents is favored by 65 percent of voters; imposing stiff penalties on employers of undocumented immigrants, 57 percent; building more border fences, 46 percent; and continuing to have federal agents round up, detain and deport illegal immigrants, 46 percent.
License bill would cover all illegal immigrants in N.M.
Fri, Feb 15, 2013
SANTA FE — Illegal immigrants would continue to get driver’s licenses that look like the state’s current license card while citizens and legal immigrants would get a newly designed, Real ID-compliant license under a new proposal introduced Thursday in the state Senate.
Senate Bill 578, introduced by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, would allow any illegal immigrant living in New Mexico to continue to get a driver’s license.
An opposing bill, SB 521, was introduced on Wednesday by Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, to allow licenses only for illegal immigrants who are granted deferred immigration action status by the federal government, widely considered a type of legal immigration status.
Both bills would create a new license for citizens that complies with the Real ID Act, the federal law that will require an approved license or a federal passport to board an airplane or enter a federal building once the law is put into effect.
“This applies to every individual who is of driving age who has taken the proper instruction, passed the proper exams and chooses to drive in our state,” Campos said.
Gov. Susana Martinez has voiced support for Ingle’s bill that would limit license issuance only to illegal immigrants with deferred action status. Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the Governor’s Office would not consider Campos’ proposal.
Under Campos’ bill, the driver’s license currently issued by the state would remain available as a two-year license for illegal immigrants or citizens who choose not to request the enhanced Real ID-compliant license, which will require additional personal identification information.
Citizens and legal immigrants would be able to receive the new Real ID license starting in December. The Real ID license would be valid for four- or eight-year periods. Campos’ proposal was co-sponsored by Ingle and Smith.
Ingle said he co-sponsored the opposing bill as an effort to move the debate forward. Ingle, however, said he disagreed with the provision in Campos’ bill that would allow illegal immigrants to receive the same driver’s license as citizens who choose not to seek the Real ID-compliant license.
“I feel we do have to have something there to differentiate a citizen from the United States and someone who’s here illegally,” Ingle said.
Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrants’ rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, called Campos’ bill “a good faith effort” to address driver’s license debate.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal
Governor backs new immigrant license proposal
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is backing a proposal that would offer temporary driver’s licenses to certain immigrant youths but stop New Mexico from continuing to grant licenses to other immigrants who illegally came to the country.
Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said Wednesday the governor worked closely with Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales and Democratic Sen. John Smith of Deming in developing the legislation that he described as a “reasonable compromise.”
However, immigrant rights activists oppose the bill and say it will discriminate against young immigrants who can qualify for a driver’s license because the federal government has allowed them to legally remain in the United States.
“This is a false compromise,” said Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant advocacy group.
The legislation would grant only temporary licenses, which couldn’t be used to board airliners or enter a federal building, to young immigrants covered by a federal policy deferring immigration enforcement.
Those immigrants, who came to the United States as children, can obtain work permits, and Diaz said they can receive Social Security numbers, which would entitle them to a traditional driver’s license in New Mexico and other states.
Diaz said in a statement that the legislation “manages to discriminate against immigrant youth who are lawfully present in the United States by forcing them to apply for a discriminatory, one-year license.”
Besides the temporary license for some young immigrants, the legislation would create two separate licenses for state residents to choose from — one complying with the federal Real ID Act, which imposes security standards for driver’s licenses, and a license that wouldn’t meet the requirements of the federal law and couldn’t be used to board airliners.
New Mexico and Washington state allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same driver’s license as a U.S. citizen. Utah grants a special driving permit to immigrants that can’t be used for identification, such as to board airliners.
Martinez-backed proposals to scrap New Mexico’s licensing system have passed in the House in the past two years with the backing of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, but the legislation has died in the Senate.
A House committee last month shelved a bill to stop issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Governor-backs-new-immigrant-license-proposal-4276737.php#ixzz2Ktdwkdqx
‘Compromise’ license bill introduced
Senate Bill 521 would allow the state Motor Vehicle Division to create a new series of New Mexico driver’s licenses. The bill would allow citizens and legal immigrants to get a new license that complies with the federal Real ID Act when their current license expires.
The bill would also create a second, unique driver’s license for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have been granted deferred immigration enforcement action status by the federal government. That license would not be good for identification purposes outside of New Mexico, according to the bill.
Under the proposal, illegal immigrants who have not been granted a deferred action status would lose all driving privileges in New Mexico.
The bill’s primary sponsors, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, have previously supported Gov. Susana Martinez’s efforts to repeal the 2003 state law that allows driver’s licenses to be issued to illegal immigrants. The bill introduced in the Senate on Wednesday represents what Ingle and Smith called a compromise on the proposed repeal.
“We’ve got to get it behind us,” Smith said. “It seems to me that we have pretty good support on that (proposal). We have not had anybody saying, ‘I object’ on that, at all.”
Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrants’ rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said the proposal introduced Wednesday takes a step backward by treating immigrants with a federally deferred action status – widely considered equivalent to a legal immigrationstatus – as second-class drivers while repealing driving privileges for thousands of other immigrants in New Mexico.
“It discriminates against people who are lawfully present … and then it just leaves everybody else out,” Diaz said. “In other words, this isn’t a compromise.”
President Barack Obama signed an executive order in July to make illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children eligible to applyfor new immigration status.
Immigrants granted deferred action status are eligible for a Real ID Act driver’s license, according to the federal statutes. Since Obama’s executive order, more than a dozen states that previously prohibited illegal immigrants from legally driving have initiated efforts to issue licenses to immigrants with deferred action status.
A Real ID Act license or a passport are the only forms of identification that would be accepted to board airplanes or enter federal buildings once the federal ID security law is put into effect. The law was scheduled to take effect in January, but enforcement was delayed by the Department of Homeland Security.
The Governor’s Office on Wednesday called the proposal a compromise that she would support.
“This is a very reasonable compromise that repeals the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, while providing driving permits to … those placed on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status by the federal government,” said Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell.
Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, was the only co-sponsor of SB 521 who has opposed the effort to repeal driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Papen said she agreed to support the new bill as “a work in progress” on the issue, but didn’t closely review details of the legislation. Papen said she was concerned the bill would prohibit some immigrants from legally driving.
“I do have some concern, because people have jobs,” Papen said. “They have jobs and they need to be able to get to work. I want them to be able to know what the laws of the roads are.”
SANTA FE – Two state senators on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal the law enabling illegal immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses.
Sens. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, are carrying the bill on behalf of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
She campaigned in 2010 on repealing the licensing law, but so far has been unsuccessful after attempts in three legislative sessions.
Two separate repeal bills offered by Republican members of the House of Representatives were blocked last month by the Democrat-controlled House labor committee.
The proposal by Smith and Ingle, Senate Bill 521, would have to clear both houses of the Legislature in the final month of the session to become law. Martinez’s spokesman called it “a very reasonable compromise,” but the leader of an immigrant group said the bill actually would reduce the rights of immigrants who are authorized to be in the United States.
The main feature of the Smith-Ingle bill would end the 2003 state law that allows illegal immigrants with proper identification documents to receive a driver’s license. Their bill would end the practice of licensing illegal immigrants.
Enrique Knell, Martinez’s press secretary, said the compromise element is that the bill would provide driving permits to DREAMers – those whose status from the federal government is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.Though they would be able to allowed to drive in New Mexico, DREAMers could not use the permit for identification, such as to board an airplane.
Marcela Diaz, director of the immigrant organization Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said Martinez was not compromising but advocating something that would give DREAMers less than they have now.
“The bill creates a driving certificate for people who are lawfully present,” Diaz said. “She cannot disallow documented immigrants from getting a license.”Other states, such as Arizona, have been sued on the same issue of denying driver’s licenses to those with a lawful presence in the country, Diaz said.
Smith was the only Senate Democrat last year to favor Martinez’s push for a repeal. The other 27 Democrats supported keeping the existing licensing law but adding penalties for fraud.Martinez says the licensing law makes New Mexico a magnet for criminals and people who live elsewhere but want a driver’s license to legitimize themselves in America.
The makeup of the Senate is now 25 Democrats and 17 Republicans. To get a repeal bill through the Senate, Martinez would need three Democrats to join Smith and all the Republicans in voting for it. That would create a 21-21 tie, opening the way for Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez to cast the deciding vote for the repeal.
But even then the Smith-Ingle bill would have to get through the House of Representatives, a tall task.
House Speaker Ken Martinez opposes repealing the licensing law. He said New Mexico’s licensing law helps families stay together. Speaker Martinez and fellow Democrats could probably bottle up this repeal bill in a committee, as they did with House versions of the bill.
Numerous states, including Maryland, Tennessee and Oregon, have repealed immigrant licensing laws similar to New Mexico’s. But Illinois this year approved a law that resembles New Mexico’s.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, said licensing illegal immigrants would make roads safer. Motorists have to pass driving tests to obtain a license. In addition, Quinn said making it easier for illegal immigrants to drive to work would improve his state’s economy.
Martinez embraces Senate Republican’s compromise bill on immigrant licenses
By Steve Terrell
The New Mexican Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 – 2
After weeks of speculation about a compromise on changing a 2003 law that allows undocumented immigrants to get New Mexico driver’s licenses, Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales introduced a bill Monday that would alter the state’s licensing system.Senate Bill 521 quickly was endorsed by Gov. Susana Martinez, whose spokesman called it “a very reasonable compromise.”
However, Marcela Diaz of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a local advocacy group for immigrants, complained that “this so-called compromise is an insult to those who are trying to create fair and workable solutions that integrate immigrant families into our state’s public safety and anti-[drunken-driving] efforts.”Under the bill, the Motor Vehicles Division would create two types of driver’s licenses.
One class of license would comply with the federal Real ID Act, which requires stringent proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport. The license would be good for as long as eight years.The other type of license would require a foreign national to show proof of identity and proof that they have lived in New Mexico for at least six consecutive months and have completed a driver’s education course. These licenses would expire after one year. Applicants couldn’t use as proof of identity a driver’s license from another state that isn’t intended for identification purposes.
Undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children and qualify for “Deferred Action Childhood Arrival” status under an executive order issued by President Barack Obama would be allowed to apply for the non-Real ID license.
Diaz told reporters Tuesday that this was no real concession. She said immigrants who qualify for deferred-action status are issued Social Security cards, so they are eligible for driver’s licenses.Diaz said the new bill “is actually worse than the driver’s license bill introduced in the House.”
That bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, was killed in a House committee last month. Ingle’s bill, Diaz said, “manages to discriminate against immigrant youth who are lawfully present in the United States by forcing them to apply for a discriminatory one-year license.”
Under the federal Real ID Act, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a driver’s license used to board an airline flight or enter a federal building would have to be Real ID-compliant. However, the deadline for enforcing this law has repeatedly been delayed. Only a handful of states — New Mexico not being one — so far have driver’s licenses that comply with that law.
Foreign nationals who have passports or visas could be issued this type of license, though the license would only be valid for the duration of the person’s authorized period of admission to the U.S.Martinez said during her campaign for election as governor that she wants to repeal the law that authorizes licenses for undocumented immigrants. However, repeal efforts have failed during the past two sessions of the Legislature.
In the statement to reporters Wednesday, governor’s spokesman Enrique Knell noted that the governor has worked closely with Ingle and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, on the new bill.As he said early in the session, Ingle said Wednesday that he and Smith originally wanted a bill similar to the law in Utah, which issues regular driver’s licenses to citizens and a driver’s permit to the undocumented.
These Utah permits are not supposed to be used for identification.Ingle said he had drafted one such proposed bill. “John Arthur and I took that to the governor,” he said. However, negotiations with the Governor’s Office led to the current form of SB 521.“It’s a start,” Ingle said of the bill. “There’s a process. It can be amended.”
SB 521 was referred to the Senate Public Affairs Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In addition to Smith, the bill’s co-sponsors include Senate President pro-tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces; Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque; and Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal.
Contact Steve Terrell at email@example.com. Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com.
SANTA FE — Five Democrats in the House of Representatives flexed their political muscle Tuesday night, blocking two bills that would repeal a driver’s license law for illegal immigrants.Republican members who sponsored the repeal proposals argued that the bills should be kept alive so they could be decided by the full 70-member House of Representatives. But Democrats on the House Labor and Human Resources Committee disagreed.
They used their majority power on the committee to table both bills on 5-4 party-line votes.At issue is a 2003 law that enables illegal immigrants with proof of New Mexico residency to obtain a driver’s license. Groups that favor the law say it has served immigrants and businesses well.But Republican Reps. Paul Pacheco and Bill Rehm, both retired police officers from Albuquerque, said the law makes New Mexico a magnet for fraud.
They sponsored separate repeal proposals.Their expert witness, Demesia Padilla, secretary of the Taxation and Revenue Department, said people living illegally somewhere in the United States travel to New Mexico to obtain a driver’s license. She said with it, they legitimize themselves, and then can move about the country.
Ezzell said the licensing law could take away her freedoms, namely that she might need a passport to fly domestically because a New Mexico driver’s license would become worthless as identification.
Ezzell stirred proponents of the licensing law when she said “illegals” could threaten the way of life her family members fought for in wars.
Rehm repeated some of her concerns. He said New Mexicans would need a passport to enter a federal building or an airplane.
These statements were rebutted by Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrant group Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
She said New Mexicans are in no peril because of the driver’s license law for illegal immigrants. The federal REAL ID Act provides inclusion for states that issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
House Speaker Ken Martinez said more states actually are moving toward a licensing system such as New Mexico’s.
Illinois, for instance, on Monday approved a law similar to New Mexico’s. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who signed the measure, said public safety was the reason.
“This common-sense law will help everybody, regardless of their background, learn the rules of the road, pass a driving test and get insurance. As a result, our roads will be safer, we will create more access to job opportunities and our economic growth will be strengthened,” Quinn said.
Many advocates of the New Mexico licensing law said it has kept families together and enabled hardworking immigrants to drive to back-breaking jobs on farms, in oil fields and in hospitality businesses.
Pacheco’s bill simply would have repealed the law. It was a near duplicate of a bill that former Rep. Andy Nunez, an independent from Hatch, introduced the last two years.
Rehm’s proposal would have repealed the law and revoked the licenses of foreign nationals. They would have received a refund for the unused portion of the license, some of which are valid for eight years.
New Mexico has issued 94,000 driver’s licenses to foreign nationals, meaning the payback program could have cost millions.
Padilla said of those with foreign national licenses, only about 16,000 filed tax returns last year. She said this was a good indicator that most illegal immigrants who obtained New Mexico licenses have left the state.
Rehm in 2011 sponsored a bill to grant illegal immigrants driving privilege cards that would have been good only in New Mexico. He said he changed to an all-out repeal because that is what the people of his district and the state want.
Democrats in the Legislature still may offer a compromise bill that would issue illegal immigrants driving privilege cards. But the preference of many Democrats is to leave the existing law as is.
Pacheco’s repeal proposal is House Bill 132 and Rehm’s is House Bill 161. The five Democrats who blocked their bills were House Speaker Ken Martinez of Grants, Rep. Phillip Archuleta of Las Cruces, and Reps. Rick Miera, Miguel Garcia and Sheryl Williams Stapleton, all of Albuquerque.
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com.
House committee kills governor-backed bill to repeal immigrant license law
By Steve Terrell | The New Mexican
In the first test this year of what has been the most contentious issue during the past three legislative sessions, a House committee voted along party lines to effectively kill a bill to repeal a 2003 law that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
The House Labor and Human Resources Committee took a vote on House Bill 132, sponsored by freshman Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, and backed by Gov. Susana Martinez, following a three-hour hearing. All five Democrats on the panel voted to table the bill, while all four Republicans voted to keep it alive.
Following that debate, the committee also tabled HB 161, sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque. His bill also would have repealed the 2003 law, but, unlike Pacheco’s bill, it would have revoked all licenses already granted to illegal immigrants.
While tabling a bill in committee normally means an issue is dead in a legislative session, that’s probably not the case with the driver’s license matter, which Martinez has made a priority of her administration since taking office two years ago.
House Speaker Kenny Martinez, a member of the labor committee, said during Tuesday’s debate that the Legislature should seek a middle ground in solving problems with license fraud brought up by Pacheco and Tax and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla.
Since the beginning of this session, Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, have said they are working on a compromise driver’s license bill. The governor has indicated she might consider signing such a bill if she can’t get a full repeal. Ingle and Smith have said their bill would be based on a Utah law, which issues driver’s permits to undocumented residents — but not driver’s licenses that can be used for identification.
However, neither senator has filed a driver’s license bill yet.
One possibility is that bill supporters on the House floor could “blast” Pacheco’s bill out of the committee for immediate debate by the full House. This happened in 2011 with a similar bill backed by the governor. That bill passed the House but died in the Senate. However, since that time, Republicans have lost seats in the House, now controlled by Democrats by a 38-32 margin. It’s not clear whether supporters would have the votes to go the “blasting” route.
Though the bill has been hotly debated for the past few years, and the arguments for and against repeal largely have remained the same, there are some new factors that colored Tuesday’s debate.
One is the fact that the governor of Illinois signed a law Sunday that will allow undocumented immigrants in that state to legally drive with a temporary visitor’s license.
Speaker Martinez also pointed out that President Barack Obama’s executive order last year suspending deportation of young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children has led several states to consider allowing these immigrants driving privileges. Martinez said there are 33 states that have decided or are considering providing some kind of driver’s license to those affected by the executive order.
“It seems the [national] momentum now is on the side of expanding driver’s licenses,” the speaker said.
A major argument used by Pacheco and supporters of his bill is that the measure would make New Mexico driver’s licenses compliant with the federal Real ID Act. “New Mexicans could board a plane and enter a federal building,” Pacheco said.
Gov. Martinez raised the issue of Real ID late last year in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. At that point, the deadline for states to comply with the act was this month. But the department eventually pushed the deadline back. Under the Real ID Act, proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport would be needed to obtain a driver’s license.
So far, only 13 states have complied with the act. But 17 states have gone the other way, adopting laws prohibiting compliance with the Real ID Act.
Most of those testifying in favor of Pacheco’s bill at Tuesday’s hearing were officials in Gov. Martinez’s administration or law-enforcement officers. Public Safety Secretary Gordon Eden said his department “spends a tremendous amount of resources helping the Tax and Revenue Department with fraud cases.”
Padilla said the cost of investigating driver’s license fraud is a strain on the budget of the Motor Vehicle Division, which is part of the Tax and Revenue Department.
Padilla said that while the state has issued driver’s licenses to some 94,000 foreign nationals, only about 16,000 of those filed state income-tax returns. This, she said, indicates that most of those who got driver’s licenses did not remain in New Mexico.
Opponents argued that repealing the 2003 law would be a hardship on families who depend on their licenses to drive to work, take their children to school and shop for groceries.
One man in the audience said he is an undocumented immigrant with a state driver’s license. He argued that only a small minority of immigrants with licenses have committed fraud. Most, he said, are law-abiding people. “Listen to the human side of this,” he said. “Listen to those who depend on their driver’s licenses.”
Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, told a reporter before the hearing, “The only reason we are here is that the governor made a promise she can’t keep. Let’s table this and go home.”
Contact Steve Terrell at email@example.com. Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com.
Monday, January 28, 2013
By Joe Monahan
THAT OTHER CIRCUS
You’ve already heard about that other circus–the one featuring driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and which is about to end its two year run. The Guv is throwing in the towel. And here’s another reason why:
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that grants hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants the right to drive. The new law makes Illinois the fourth state to allow driver’s licenses or permits for undocumented immigrants and comes ahead of President Obama’s expected announcement on a plan for comprehensive immigration reform expected on Tuesday.
Quinn and the bipartisan supporters of the legislation say the measure will improve traffic safety in the state. “This new law will ensure every motorist is properly licensed to drive. It’s the right thing to do,” a spokesperson for the Governor said in a statement.
Susana senses she needs a new act. How about “The Great Compromiser?” That might please the crowds. But she can’t do it what a sour look on her face. She has to enjoy it, embrace it and mean it. And that’s a challenge for our heels-in-cement prosecutor Governor.
FALLING IN LINE
And we can’t let this one get away. We’ve been among those arguing for over two years for a compromise on the driver’s license issue, but each time the ABQ Journal stiff-armed the idea, calling compromise no solution and warning of dire public safety consequences. Of course, it was mostly balderdash. But guess what? Now that Susana has uttered the dreaded “C” word, the Journal has fallen in line and is aping her new outlook. Their Sunday editorial:
“A straight repeal would be cleaner…but…providing illegal immigrants with a separate mechanism to drive legally may be the best option the Legislature can deliver…
Well, welcome to our world, ink-stained ones. We’ve been waiting for you. And it didn’t hurt too much, did it?
The editorial writers should keep the book on compromise on the desktop. If they’re determined to stay on the same page as Susana, they’re going to need it.
We guess freshman ABQ GOP State Rep. Paul Pacheco didn’t get the memo on the driver’s license repeal. In that same edition of the Journal he is still arguing for his bill that would repeal the licenses, not reform them. Hey, Susana and Jay. Give Paul a call and tell him about the new world order.
Election Timing May Explain Governor’s Shift on Licenses
By Thom Cole, ABQ Journal
Jan. 26, 2013
The session of the Legislature now under way may be the last and best chance for Gov. Susana Martinez to win approval of major initiatives before she seeks re-election next year. That could explain why Martinez said this week that she would consider compromise legislation on the issue of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
The governor pledged during the 2010 campaign to put an end to the state’s practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Since taking office, the Republican has used seemingly every ounce of her political muscle to accomplish that but has failed in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
The House has twice approved a bill to stop the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, but the Senate has refused to go along.
But voters expect their elected leaders to produce, no matter the degree of difficulty. Martinez recognizes that. “I believe governing is delivering exactly what you promised you were going to do during the campaign,” Martinez said in 2011.
The Legislature will meet in regular session one more time before the 2014 elections, but that session, beginning next January, will be a short one, just 30 days, and Democrats will be reluctant to hand any significant wins to Martinez in an election year.
Under a state law enacted in 2003, foreign nationals living in New Mexico can obtain driver’s licenses regardless of whether they have lawful status to be in this country.
Martinez said during the 2010 campaign that New Mexico was attracting illegal immigrants by providing them with driver’s licenses, and Journal polls in 2010 and 2012 found that more than seven out of 10 New Mexicans want a stop to issuing the licenses.
A federal judge called issuing the licenses “unreasonable.”
Supporters of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants say the licenses are a means to help ensure all drivers are identified for law enforcement purposes, meet driving requirements and eligible to purchase motor vehicle insurance.
There are conflicting studies on whether the number of uninsured drivers has declined since New Mexico began issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and, if so, whether the 2003 law is the reason.
A recent study in California found that unlicensed drivers are far more likely to cause a fatal crash, and a growing number of states are issuing driving privileges to at least some illegal immigrants.
Since taking office in January 2011, the governor has used her bully pulpit, intimidation, fear and more to try to persuade the Legislature to pass a bill to stop the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
In February 2011, less than two months after taking office, Martinez launched a campaign of radio advertisements to try to put the heat on the Legislature.
She used her executive powers that same year to launch a program to check whether foreign nationals with driver’s licenses resided in New Mexico, as required by law.
A judge ordered a stop to the program after a Hispanic civil rights group filed a lawsuit.
With the Legislature still unwilling to act, Martinez targeted some opposing lawmakers in elections last year, taking out then-Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, but failing to defeat Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.
The administration also has been quick to publicize arrests of illegal immigrants falsely claiming New Mexico residency to obtain driver’s licenses, and it has warned that issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants means we might need passports to get on airplanes someday soon.
In its latest news release on the issue, the administration on Friday announced the guilty plea of an Albuquerque man who was accused of being part of an organized crime ring that transported at least 100 illegal immigrants to New Mexico to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses.
With the possibility she might come away empty-handed again from this year’s Legislature, Martinez said Tuesday that she would consider legislation to create a driver’s permit for illegal immigrants if the proposed permit card could not be used for identification or used to get a driver’s license in another state.
“I’ve made a commitment that I will cross the aisle and see where we can come together on a compromise that satisfies public safety,” the governor said.
On Wednesday, Martinez did a little crawfishing, saying her No. 1 priority is still to end the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
She long ago gave up on revocation of licenses already issued.
Having opened the door to compromise, the governor now seems to be preparing to make her case to voters that she did the best she could on the issue.
It’s much easier to make that case if you have a half-loaf instead of no loaf at all.
KUNM Local News
Compromise In Sight On Licenses?
Several bills have been introduced at the state capitol that would change the law granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. It’s unclear whether the governor, who has supported all-out repeal in the past, now wants to compromise.
Susana Martinez Renews Push to Repeal Licenses For Undocumented
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, the first Latina GOP governor in the country, is renewing her push to repeal a state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses.
“I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” Martinez said in a Facebook post. “I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law.”
Martinez has advocated a repeal of the law before, during her run for governor.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Like Gary And Bill Before Her, National Spotlight Lures Susana And It Impacts Policy Here, Plus: “Crown Jewel” Of ABQ Development Up For Sale, And: Bregman Wins Key Endorsement In Dem Party Chair Contest
Our analysts think that’s a key reason for her shift (cave-in?) this week on her previously rigid stance on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. After two years of making repeal of the licenses her banner issue, she is now heading for a deal that falls far short.
(She was back talking tough on this again Wednesday, but as the saying goes—”We heard you the first time, Guv.”)
Martinez and her chief political adviser are nothing if not inveterate poll watchers. They may not live an die by them, but close to it. And on matters dealing with Hispanics and the licenses Martinez was starting to fall behind the curve. For example:
Rubio has been meeting with…conservative opinion-shapers to lay out his vision for a plan that would offer temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants. Those applying would have to pass background checks and other tests designed to eventually lead from permanent residency to citizenship…Rubio has seized a torch that in recent years burned several similarly ambitious Republican politicians. But in a sign of how quickly the parameters of the debate on this issue have shifted since President Obama’s re-election, prominent conservatives–many of whom were vocal in their opposition to previous similar plans–have been lavishing praise on Rubio’s ideas for reform.
Look for Governor Martinez’s strident and often harsh rhetoric on immigration and driver’slicenses to melt away even further as she prepares for her 2014 re-election bid as well as a place in the national spotlight.
New Mexico governor takes aim at immigrant driver’s licenses
(CNN) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday that she plans a new push to repeal the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Martinez, who has tried to get the law repealed twice before, described it as dangerous in a post on her official Facebook page.
“I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” said Martinez, a Republican. “I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law.”
To read the complete article, click on the link below:
Martinez: Immigrant license repeal still the goal
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday that she remained committed to “full repeal” of a New Mexico law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses despite signaling a willingness to compromise with state Democrats a day earlier.
Speaking at a press conference about a new state driver’s license system, Martinez told reporters that she will continue to push for a repeal of the law even though Senate Democrats have blocked the Republican governor’s previous attempts and have warned that another repeal attempt had no chance of passing.
“This is what I hear from people across the state,” Martinez said. “They support a repeal of this law.”
To read the complete article, click on the link below:
Gov. May Compromise On Licenses
Gov. Susana Martinez, in a potential change of course, said Tuesday that she would consider legislation to create a driver’s permit for illegal immigrants if the proposed permit card could not be used for identification or used to get a driver’s license in another state.
“If we have something that proposes that, and takes care of public safety, I’m certainly willing to take a look at it,” Martinez said Tuesday.
Public safety concerns previously cited by the Republican governor have centered on non-residents fraudulently obtaining New Mexico driver’s licenses for identification purposes.
Her comments Tuesday are in contrast to her position during the 2012 legislative session, when she warned she would veto any legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to drive legally in New Mexico.
Legislative leaders in the current session — both Republican and Democratic — say they’re interested in considering a driver’s permit option as a compromise to end the two-year legislative standoff over Martinez’s push to repeal a 2003 law that allows driver’s licenses to be issued to illegal immigrants.
“I’ve made a commitment that I will cross the aisle and see where we can come together on a compromise that satisfies public safety,” Martinez said Tuesday. “If it satisfies our public safety and keeps people from coming from all over the world to New Mexico to present fraudulent documents to claim that they live here and then leave our state with an ID, a driver’s license that looks just like mine and yours, then we are not doing what is right by New Mexicans.”
No legislation detailing a proposed driver’s permit has been introduced, but several legislators say they’re having discussions about how to create a driver’s permit system that works in New Mexico while ending the broader practice of granting illegal immigrants full-fledged driver’s licenses.
The governor said her willingness to support a driver’s permit option “depends on how the bill is written.”
Among those negotiating legislation for a driver’s permit are Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, — both of whom support the governor’s effort to repeal full-fledged licenses for illegal immigrants.
Some opponents of the driver’s license repeal, including Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, also have said they would consider a permit option and will join negotiations over driver’s permit legislation,
“What we’re trying to do is at least start the discussion regarding the possibility of a compromise,” Campos said.
Driver’s permits for illegal immigrants currently are issued in Utah with an ID card printed with the phrase “Not Valid for Identification, Driver’s Privilege Only.”
The state of Illinois recently approved a two-tier driver’s license allowing illegal immigrants to drive with a temporary ID that state lawmakers say cannot be used to board an airplane or enter a federal building.
Past legislative proposals in New Mexico for an illegal immigrant driver’s permit failed to address public safety concerns because the permit cards would have looked too similar to the state’s driver’s license for citizens, the governor said.
One permit proposal in 2012 would have denoted the illegal immigrant driver’s permit with a new single-letter classification code near the bottom of a driver’s license card that otherwise mirrors the regular licenses currently issued to New Mexico residents.
However, some have questioned whether a distinctly marked illegal immigrant driving permit would subject immigrants to discrimination.
House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said this week that he would consider a driver’s permit option if the permit card is not perceived as anti-immigrant.
“The balance there is to make sure it’s a license that does what we would like it to do, which is to help these folks come out from underneath the shadows and be properly licensed, insured,” Speaker Martinez said, “not create a license that’s a scarlet letter that they would be afraid to get.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
Senate OK’s Bill To Toughen Driver’s License Law
Unlike the Martinez-backed legislation that passed the House of Representatives by a 45-25 vote last week, the Senate bill would not repeal the 2003 law that allows foreign nationals to obtain New Mexico licenses regardless of their immigration status.
Senate Bill 235 (click here to see it), would require immigrants with driver’s licenses to renew their licenses yearly, would toughen penalties for those committing fraud and would impose more stringent residency requirements. The bill would also require immigrants applying for a license to submit to fingerprinting.
Tonight’s 27-15 vote largely broke down along party lines. Just one Democrat, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, voted against the legislation. All Senate Republicans voted in opposition.
NM Senate votes to keep driver’s license law
SANTA FE – State senators voted 27-15 Monday night to maintain the law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver’s license.
The vote went along party lines with one exception. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, joined the 14 Republican senators in opposing the measure.
The bill, by Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, calls for one-year license renewals by foreign nationals. Most New Mexico driver’s licenses are good for four or eight years.
Previously, the House of Representatives voted 45-25 to outlaw the controversial licensing program. House and Senate members are at odds on the issue for the second consecutive year.
If they cannot agree on a bill by Thursday, the existing licensing system would remain intact.
Santa Fe Bureau Chief Milan Simonich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com
Panel Depicts License Issue as Racial Justice
Panelists, all of whom were opponents of laws clamping down on immigrants, drew on comparisons to Arizona’s anti-immigration laws as well as the civil rights struggle, begging New Mexico to learn from their mistakes.
In New Mexico, a push to strike down a state law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday, setting up a showdown in the Senate for the second year in a row.
Moderated by former TV news anchorman Conroy Chino, the panel included Arizona State Sen. Steve Gallardo; Scott Douglas, executive director of the Greater Birmingham Ministries and a board member of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice; Rachel Teran, deputy director of Promise America, a grass-roots group that registered 15,000 voters in the lead-up to the recall of Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce; and Christine Sierra, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico specializing in race, ethnicity and Latino politics.
Panelists made frequent mention of Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of those they stop and allows them to make warrantless arrests if they believe the person has committed an offense allowing them to be deported.
February 10, 2012.
” Albuquerque NM” Propuesta de ley para revocar licencias a mile de inmigrantes indocumentados en Nuevo Mexico sera presentada al senado para ser debatida.
Ariz. State Sen. Gallardo speaks at NM immigrant rights summit
On Friday, political, religious and immigrant rights leaders gathered in Santa Fe for a convocation titled, “Resisting the Politics of Fear: The Connection between Anti-immigrant Legislation and the Struggle for Civil Rights.” The purpose of the event, organized by the NAACP, the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Educators and immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, was to delve into the deeper social and political ramifications of anti-immigrant legislation, and also learn how these laws impact state and local economies as well as individuals’ civil and human rights.
Featured at the convocation were leaders from two states currently at the forefront of the national battle over anti-immigrant legislation, Arizona State Sen. Steve Gallardo and leader of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice Scott Douglas. Gallardo is currently leading the fight in Arizona against SB 1070, and he recently introduced a bill into the legislature to officially repeal the law. Douglas a religious leader in Alabama, has recently been organizing churches and ministries in the fight against that state’s 1070-inspired law HB 56.
House OKs Repeal of Licenses
Members of the House voted 45-25 in favor of a bill that would repeal the 2003 law, with 11 Democrats joining Republicans and the chamber’s lone independent in support of the measure.
Meanwhile, a Senate committee endorsed a different approach later Wednesday – tightening the current law by imposing tougher residency requirements and stiffer fraud penalties on immigrant driver’s license applicants.
House sends immigrant driver’s license bill to Senate
Following a nearly four-hour debate, the House voted 45-25 to pass Senate House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez, I-Hatch.
The bill, which is strongly supported by Gov. Susana Martinez, now goes to the Senate, which last year heavily amended a similar House bill, effectively killing it. Once again the state House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to pass a political-hot-potato bill that would repeal the state law allowing the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
House passes driver’s license bill
Democrats control the Senate 28-14, and their leaders have said they want to modify but maintain the existing law.
Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of Doña Ana, the whip for Senate Democrats, said she would not vote for a repeal because the licensing law is a humane way of treating immigrants who do difficult and demanding jobs critical to New Mexico’s economy.
Lawmaker says driver’s license repeal unlikely in 2012
By: Eddie Garcia, KOB Eyewitness News 4, Posted 2/4/2012
Governor Susana Martinez scored a victory Friday in her fight to ban illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses in New Mexico.
The state House Judiciary Committee passed the original version of the bill introduced by Rep. Andy Nunez (Dona Ana), and supported by the governor.
H.B. 103, which would repeal the law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, passed the committee by a 9-6 vote.
It will now go to the floor for a full vote where House representatives will decide on a repeal of the law for the second consecutive year.
House Panel OKs Repeal Of License Law
However, several lawmakers predicted that debate on immigrant driver’s licenses will once again end in gridlock – as it did last year – despite the House Judiciary Committee’s 9-6 vote in favor of repealing the 2003 law.
“I believe that our failure to reach a compromise will mean that no action will occur during this legislative session,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Al Park, D-Albuquerque, one of two Democrats to vote in favor of the measure.
House gets ban on illegals’ licenses
Chairman’s push for compromise fails
Updated: Friday, 03 Feb 2012, 6:49 PM MST Published : Friday, 03 Feb 2012, 6:49 PM MST
A bipartisan group had been trying to find common ground with Gov. Susana Martinez and the Senate but couldn’t do it.
House Panel OKs Bill To Halt Immigrant Licenses
Posted Feb. 3, 2012
A House panel has approved a proposal backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to stop driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants in New Mexico.
The Judiciary Committee voted 9-6 for the politically charged measure and to send it to the House for debate. Two Democrats joined with Republicans in backing the measure.
The House approved a similar proposal last year to scrap the current licensing system for illegal immigrants but it failed in the Senate.
The governor contends there’s widespread fraud in the current license system. Supporters of the current law say immigrants in New Mexico need licenses for jobs and school.
Many Democrats favor an alternative proposal allowing licenses for illegal immigrants but imposing new restrictions such as the fingerprinting of applicants.
House panel OKs bill to halt immigrant licenses
The House Judiciary Committee voted 9-6 on Friday to endorse a measure backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to overturn a 2003 law that allows driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Two Democrats joined with seven Republicans in agreeing to send the measure to the 70-member House, which approved a similar proposal last year.
But critics of the proposal predicted that Martinez won’t succeed in winning enactment of the legislation because it’s likely to fail in the Senate, where Democrats hold a stronger majority than in the House.
Before the committee voted, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, an Albuquerque Democrat, described the governor’s proposal as a “political football.” Republicans have hopes of winning a majority in the House in this year’s elections.
No compromise on NM driver’s license bill
The committee chairman, Rep. Al Park, predicted that the session will end Feb. 16 without a change in current law.
It allows residents of New Mexico to receive driver’s licenses, regardless of immigration status. The committee soon will vote on a bill to repeal the licensing law. But Park said that measure will never clear the state Senate.
Don’t Bother With License Compromise, Martinez Says
Martinez repeated she would veto any bill that allows illegal immigrants to legally drive in New Mexico, regardless of whether it’s a license or a not-for-ID state permit.
And if that means continued gridlock between the Senate and the Governor’s Office derailing any change in the law this year – so be it, Martinez said. After all, it’s an election year for the Legislature, she said.
License Bill Action Delayed
The extra time, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Al Park, D-Albuquerque, could allow lawmakers to find middle ground on the controversial issue and recommend legislation that would both pass the Democratic-majority Legislature and win the backing of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Fight over license bill continues
SANTA FE – Wednesday’s debate on whether New Mexico should issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants lasted more than five hours and ended with no resolution.
The House Judiciary Committee opted – over Republican resistance – to continue discussions on the bill Friday.
One nugget of hard news emerged Wednesday.
Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, said he would vote to repeal the 2003 licensing law for illegal immigrants if the issue reached the full House of Representatives. This is consistent with Park’s stand of last year, when he voted for the repeal.
But on Wednesday, Park resisted joining with the Republicans for the repeal because he said that would shut off debate. As the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Park said he wanted to continue looking for common ground.
A repeal bill, he said, will not pass the state Senate.
For their part, Democrats on the committee have offered various amendments that they said would make the existing law stronger by attacking fraud.
Nunez seeks redemption on driver’s license issue
SANTA FE — State Rep. Andy Nunez says he cannot forget the day he watched a dusty pickup truck, its bed jammed with a dozen men, roll into the motor vehicle office in Hatch.
“All of them were doing the same thing, trying to get a driver’s license. That just doesn’t happen,” Nunez said.
In that moment, he said, he realized that New Mexico was a mark for illegal immigrants trying to cheat the system.
Dems sink driver’s license bill
The proposal by Rep. Andy Nunez, an independent from Hatch, failed on a 5-4 party-line vote in the House Labor and Human Relations Committee.
Democrats replaced the measure with a substitute bill that would still allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, but would limit them to two years. New Mexico licenses typically are good for four or eight years.
The Democrats’ compromise plan also would increase felony penalties for those convicted of fraudulently trying to obtain a license. Though undocumented immigrants can be licensed under the existing law, they must live in New Mexico to qualify.
New Mexico legislative panel votes to continue immigrant driver’s licenses with restrictions
By Associated Press, Jan. 27, 2012
The politically-charged fight is far from over, however. The legislation heads to another panel for consideration and Martinez stands a strong chance of success if the issue reaches the full 70-member House for a vote. A measure to overturn New Mexico’s lic