Media 2014/2015

Martinez: ‘From Day One … there was obstruction’

Martinez on Dems: ‘From Day One … there was obstruction’

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez continues to blame Democrats in the state Senate for blocking parts of her legislative agenda, such as holding back third-graders who score poorly on reading tests. But there was an element of bipartisanship Tuesday when Martinez appeared before the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce to discuss the legislative session. She signed three bills that had support from Republicans and Democrats. Joining her on stage at the Albuquerque Convention Center were, from left, Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho; Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview; and Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque. Milan Simonich/The New Mexican

Gov. signs bipartisan bills to aid taxpayers, businesses
In a public ceremony Tuesday in Albuquerque, Gov. Susana Martinez signed three bipartisan bills that she said would help taxpayers or businesses.

One of the bills, by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, creates an independent hearings office for tax disputes. Martinez said this means taxpayers do not have to appear before the same agency that is billing them.

Another bill limits temporary disability benefits to 700 weeks. Martinez’s staff described this change as one that would bring “much-needed predictability to businesses.” Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, and Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Nambé, sponsored the bill.

The third measure, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, allows the state to offer a special rate for electricity and gas utilities to companies considering relocating to New Mexico.

Posted: Wed Apr 8, 2015.

By Milan Simonich
The New Mexican |

ALBUQUERQUE — Bad blood continues to flow from New Mexico’s combative legislative session more than two weeks after the last gavel.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday again blamed Democrats in the state Senate for blocking her legislative agenda, even as she signed three bipartisan bills intended to help consumers and businesses.

As the keynote speaker at a leadership meeting of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Martinez focused most of her complaints on Senate Democrats preventing floor votes on two of her initiatives.

“The public and the business community have every right to be disappointed,” Martinez said.

One bill she favored would have outlawed fees assessed to workers who choose not to join a labor union. Martinez incorrectly said the bill also would have prohibited compulsory union membership. Mandatory membership in labor unions already is illegal under federal law.

The other bill Martinez complained about Democrats killing was her push to hold back third-graders if they score in the bottom tier on standardized reading tests. About 6,000 of the state’s 26,000 third-graders are in that category, though the bill Martinez wanted had several exemptions and would have promoted certain students with poor reading scores.

Martinez said the bill was filled with plans and programs to help struggling students read better. But, she said, Senate Democrats dwelt on the section that would have stopped children from advancing to fourth grade based on low test scores.

“From Day One, like I said, there was obstruction,” Martinez said.

Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, attended the speech because Martinez was signing one of his bills in a bipartisan ceremony. Candelaria said Senate Democrats and many more people in the state have honest differences with Martinez on union fees and the wisdom of holding back third-graders without parents or teachers having a say in the decision.

Candelaria said the national research is clear that forcing students to repeat a grade based on a test result does more harm than good.

“Look at the data. Mandatory retention just doesn’t work,” Candelaria said in an interview. “My willingness to compromise stops at my own values.”

As for outlawing fees for workers who decline to join the union that represents them, Candelaria said that bill took up inordinate time and was divisive. Only about 6 percent of the state’s workers are represented by labor unions, and many of them are government employees.

“It’s a non-entity, a non-issue,” Candelaria said of prohibiting compulsory union fees. “There’s a lot better things we could be doing with our time.”

In her speech, Martinez never mentioned the death of a third bill that she has championed since taking office in 2011. Most Republican senators joined Democrats in opposing her as she tried again to repeal the 12-year-old law that allows New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a state driver’s license.

The measure Martinez supported easily cleared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But state senators voted 35-5 for a compromise bill that they said would have put the state in compliance with the federal Real ID law while still allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.

Eleven Republican senators joined all 24 Democratic senators in supporting the driver’s license compromise that Martinez opposed. Sen. Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, co-sponsored the compromise, saying immigrant workers are important to the state economy.

In the end, neither Ingle’s driver’s license bill nor the one Martinez supported cleared both the House and Senate. That means the existing law that Martinez opposes remains on the books.

Martinez said she was displeased that the Senate did not approve a bill the House authorized for $264 million in capital construction projects.

Senators had approved their own capital spending plan on a bipartisan, 40-0 vote. Republican House members then amended that bill to Martinez’s specifications. She said it would have helped improve roads through significant projects.

But Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Martinez’s plan of borrowing against severance tax revenue would simply extend debts from similar initiatives by her predecessors, Democrat Bill Richardson and Republican Gary Johnson.

Legislators ended the 60-day session without approving a capital construction bill. Martinez on Tuesday did not talk about calling a special session to pass a compromise bill for capital projects, which many business groups and others say could provide economic stimulation and jobs.

But House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, in a separate speech to Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce members, kept the door open. Tripp said a bill for capital construction still could be reached in “a few days when the rhetoric dies down.”

Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

Two-thirds of Senate Republicans voted for driver’s license compromise

Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 12:01 pm | Updated: 2:16 pm, Tue Mar 24, 2015.

Milan Simonich

The New Mexican

In perhaps the most surprising vote of this year’s legislative session, two-thirds of the Republican state senators split from Gov. Susana Martinez on the issue of granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Martinez, a Republican, has pushed hard for four years to repeal the 2003 law that enables New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a driver’s license.

She had solid support from all Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives until last week. Then came a sea change.

Eleven of 16 Republican senators broke from Martinez and voted for a compromise bill that would continue licensing undocumented immigrants. One Republican senator was excused from the vote.

In addition to continuing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, the measure also would make New Mexico compliant with the federal Real ID Act, said the sponsors, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. Martinez disagrees with their assessment.

The compromise bill cleared the Senate 35-5. It then died in the House.

Here is the breakdown of the 11 Republican senators who joined all 24 Democrats in voting for the compromise:

* Sue Wilson Beffort, Sandia Park

* Bill Burt, Alamogordo

* Ron Griggs, Alamogordo

* Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, Portales

* Gay Kernan, Hobbs

* Steve Neville, Aztec

* Bill Payne, Albuquerque

* John Ryan, Albuquerque

* Bill Sharer, Farmington

* Lisa Torraco, Albuquerque

* Pat Woods, Broadview

Five Republican senators voted against the bill. They were: Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho; Lee Cotter of Las Cruces; Mark Moores of Albuquerque; Cliff Pirtle of Roswell; and Sander Rue of Albuquerque.

The 17th GOP senator, Carroll Leavell of Jal, was excused from the vote, according to the Senate’s official tally sheet.

Senate passes driver’s license compromise with GOP support

By Walter Rubel wrubel@lcsun-news.com @walterrubel on Twitter

POSTED:   03/20/2015
SANTA FE — “We have to get this issue behind us,” Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said Friday in explaining why he and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, introduced a compromise bill that would allow immigrants who entered the country illegally to obtain a license that would allow them to drive, but could not be used for federal identification.

The bill passed 35-5, with all Democrats and a majority of Republicans voting for it. It then moved over to the Republican-controlled House, which rejected an amendment earlier this session that would have done the same thing, instead passing a straight repeal bill.

House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, effectively killed the bill later Friday afternoon by referring it to two House committees, with just 18 hours left in the session.

The New Mexico Legislature voted in 2004 to allow immigrants to obtain a state driver’s license, regardless of their legal status. Gov. Susana Martinez has pushed for repeal of that law each year since her election in 2010.

The bill passed Friday is modeled after driver’s licenses issued in Utah, Smith said, and would create two classes of licenses. For legal residents, the license would include a gold star in the corner. For those here illegally, it would be clearly marked “Not for federal identification purposes.”

Passage of the bill will “perpetuate and condone people entering the country illegally,” said Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, one of five Republicans to oppose the bill.

But failure to pass it will leave the status quo in place, allowing immigrants here illegally to obtain driver’s licenses no different that anyone else, countered Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque.

“This incontrovertibly will make it a little better,” Payne said. “It may not be what we want. It’s not the bill I want, but that bill is not before me. That bill never got here.”

Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, whose district extends into Doña Ana County, said when he ran for office, the driver’s license issue was one of those he heard about the most.

“It’s a big issue to the people in my part of New Mexico. But I’m pragmatic enough that we’re not going to get to where all of us would like to be,” he said. “I’m not certain the citizens of New Mexico will think this bill will do what we would like, but it’s as close as we’ve come.”

Smith noted that the Legislature has debated the issue every session since Martinez was first elected governor in 2010, and that he has supported her repeal efforts in the past.

“But obviously, that’s not going to happen,” he said.

“We’ve had this issue before us for five years. And in the meantime, 11 other states adopted a modification or something very similar to this issue.”

Smith noted that there is growing pressure on states that have driver’s licenses that are not compliant with federal Real ID laws. An extension was grated last year, and states now have until Oct. 1, 2020, to meet federal guidelines. Under federal law, those with licenses not compliant would be unable to board an airplane or enter a federal building without some other form of accepted government ID like a passport.

“We’ve got to recognize reality and step up to the plate and do what’s right,” Smith said. “We’re hoping the administration will get on board and is sincerely willing to compromise.”

Walter Rubel can be reached at 575-541-5441.

 

Compromise on immigrant driver’s licenses clears Senate

    Posted: Friday, March 20, 2015

    By Milan Simonich

    The New Mexican

    In defiance of Gov. Susana Martinez, most Senate Republicans joined all Democrats on Friday in voting for a compromise bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to continue receiving New Mexico driver’s licenses.

    The bill also would make the state compliant with the federal Real ID Act, said the sponsors, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. They are among the more conservative senators and had previously voted for bills that the Republican governor pushed to repeal the licensing law.

    But Ingle and Smith said four years of fighting over driver’s licenses has been destructive and should end. The state’s Catholic bishops and the League of Women Voters were among those who supported the compromise bill, saying immigrant laborers are crucial to the state’s economy and should be able to continue driving lawfully.

    Senators approved the compromise bill 35-5, but it is unlikely that it will clear the Republican-controlled House of Representatives or that Martinez would sign it even if it did.

    Martinez has criticized the compromise bill, saying New Mexico residents overwhelmingly want a repeal of the law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

    The compromise proposal the Senate approved originally was introduced in the House of Representatives by House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. House Republicans rejected Egolf’s bill in favor of a repeal measure. In turn, a Senate Committee amended the repeal bill, then bottled it up in a committee.

    If the Senate compromise stalls now, Martinez would not get the repeal she says she wants. Instead, the existing licensing law would stand. It allows New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a driver’s license just like the ones that U.S. citizens receive.

    Several Republican senators said the compromise bill is not perfect, but that it is better than the existing system.

    “This bill helps. It doesn’t do what I’d like to see, but it does help,” said Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, who voted for it.

    Sen. Bill Payne, R-Albuquerque, also supported the compromise by Smith and Ingle. Payne said the bill would make the state’s driver’s license system “a little better.” With no better option in front of him, he said, he supported the compromise.

    Sen. Sander Rue of Albuquerque was one of five Republicans who voted against the bill. He said it would merely perpetuate the system of people entering the country unlawfully, then getting a driver’s license in New Mexico.

    Smith countered that numerous other states, including California, Colorado and Illinois, have approved licensing laws similar to New Mexico’s.

    Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, said he would just as soon leave in place the existing licensing law, as it works fine. But in the interest of compromise, he said he voted for the bill by Smith and Ingle because it maintains public safety. Licensed drivers are listed in police databases and are able to buy auto insurance, he said.

    In an earlier interview, Allen Sánchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the state is happy to rely on the strong backs and good work ethic of immigrant laborers. For instance, nearly all the workers who harvest the state’s famous green chile crop are foreign nationals. Without them, the chile wouldn’t get from farms to markets, he said.

    The driver’s license law is good for the economy and helps families, he said.

    The bill senators approved would create two tiers of licenses.

    One license would be available to any resident of the state. It would be demarcated as “not for federal purposes,” such as entering a restricted federal building. Undocumented immigrants could qualify for this license. Other residents of the state also could obtain it if they didn’t want a driver’s license that was recognized under the federal Real ID Act, a security measure.

    The other license would be for New Mexico residents who are lawful residents of the United States. This driver’s license also would be accepted by federal agencies for official purposes under the Real ID Act.

    Some states, including Arizona and Oklahoma in the Southwest, have decided not to comply with the Real ID Act. They consider it to be an intrusion and an unfunded federal mandate.

    New Mexico, though, wants to follow the federal law. Smith and Ingle said their bill would make the state compliant. The governor disagrees.

    In addition to Rue, Republican senators who voted against the compromise bill were Mark Moores of Albuquerque, Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho, Lee Cotter of Las Cruces and Cliff Pirtle of Roswell.

    Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said the licensing law for immigrants is benign, but Gov. Martinez wants it as a wedge issue for elections. Diaz said she appreciated that senators view immigrants as people who work and pay taxes, not as an enemy of the state.

    Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at www.santafenewmexican.com.

    New Mexico Senate approves two-tiered driver’s license bill

    BY VIK JOLLY

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    03/20/2015 7:53 PM

    The New Mexico Senate approved a two-tiered bill on Friday that would continue to grant driving privileges to people in the country illegally.

    The compromise reached on the issue calls for two distinct driver’s licenses — one that complies with federal identification requirements and another that does not.

    The bill sponsored by Sens. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, cleared the chamber with a 35-5 vote.

    However, with the legislative session wrapping up Saturday, it appears unlikely the House would vote on the measure.

    The House last month rejected an amendment akin to the long-serving senators’ proposal and approved a bill to end the state’s practice of giving driver’s licenses to people who can’t prove they are in the country legally.

    The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Thursday amended that bill to mirror the language in the Ingle-Smith measure but no further action was taken.

    The thorny matter of issuing driver’s licenses to people suspected of being in the country illegally has been before the Legislature for years. State officials estimate more than 100,000 licenses have been issued since New Mexico became one of the first states in 2003 to offer licenses to immigrants regardless of status.

    “Obviously it’s controversial, but hopefully we’re doing what’s best for New Mexico,” Smith said.

    Ingle called it a tough decision. “We’ve got to go forward in some way to get this issue solved,” he said.

    Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor, has been pushing to repeal the law since she was first elected in 2010. Her office reiterated the governor’s opposition to the Senate bill.

    “This is a proposal that has already failed the House, isn’t Real-ID compliant, and would not require secure IDs in New Mexico,” Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said.

    Proponents of repealing the 2003 law say polling shows most New Mexicans want to reverse course. They argue that doing so would help prevent fraud and bring the state into compliance with federal identification requirements.

    Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, who voted against the two-tiered measure, said supporting the bill would condone illegal behavior.

    Those who want to keep the law the way it is argue that a change will hurt working families. They also point to the growing number of states granting driver’s licenses in recent years to people regardless of immigration status.

    In addition, President Barack Obama’s executive actions to allow immigrants to remain in the country have forced some states to allow people covered by his deferred-action program to get licenses.

    Ten states now offer licenses to immigrants who can’t prove they are in the country legally.

    The driver’s license issue saw heated debate in the House and brought hundreds of protesters to the State Capitol earlier in the session.

    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article15470153.html#storylink=cpy

    Senate passes driver’s license compromise

    By  

    NM Political Report
    March 20, 2015

    The state Senate voted to institute a two-tier driver’s license system in the state that they hope would stop the sometimes heated debate on allowing those in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses.

    The legislation passed easily after a relatively small amount of debate for an issue that has had such a large amount of attention from both the media and the public in the past five years. The legislation passed 35-5 with five Republican Senators voting against.The bill now heads to the state House with about 24 hours left in the session, raising questions on if the bill has enough time to pass and if the House Republican caucus will support something that still allows those in the country illegally to drive legally in the state. Update: The bill was assigned to the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee; with less than 24 hours left in the session, this is likely a death knell for the legislation. The story continues as originally written below.

    The compromise is similar to an unsuccessful floor substitute by House Democrats on the outright repeal that passed the House earlier this session according to a House Democratic caucus spokeswoman.

    Even if the House passes the legislation, there are serious questions on whether or not Gov. Susana Martinez would sign such legislation; she has voiced opposition to similar efforts in past years.

    The bill was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and would allow for one tier of driver’s licenses that would comply the the federal REAL ID Act and another that would allow the holder to drive a motor vehicle in the state. The first tier would only be available to those in the country legally.

    The first tier would allow the holder to use the identification for federal purposes, including getting on a plane or entering federal facilities. The REAL ID Act became law in 2005, but the implementation debate has been pushed back time and time again.

    Smith, the most conservative Democrat in the chamber, said, “We’ve got to get this issue behind us.”

    Ingle agreed.

    “We need to go forward,” Ingle said. He noted that it the bill ins’t perfect, but it is a bill that can pass.

    Some Republicans opted to vote against the bill, saying that giving any government document to those in the country illegally is wrong.

    “I’m puzzled by the fact that the system we’re talking about would perpetuate and condone people entering the country illegally,” Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, said. He said that the state of New Mexico “will condone that behavior by issuing official documents.”

    “That’s your spin on it,” Smith answered.

    Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, also was critical of the legislation, though he voted for the bill. He said it could be “simply changed” to make it more palatable but noted that there wasn’t much time left in the session.

    Other Republicans also reluctantly supported the legislation. Sen. Bill Payne, R-Albuquerque, said that the bill needed to be judged on its own merits and not against other legislation that is out there, a reference to the House legislation that stalled in Senate committees.

    “Right now, this is the bill we got,” Payne said.

    Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, also said that this was not a perfect bill but that it was likely the best bill possible at the time. He said it would make sure “That the person driving towards you” has taken driving tests and eye tests, making the roads saf20er.

    That was the argument in passing the legislation over a decade ago, when then-Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation into law. Governor Martinez opposed the legislation during her first election bid and throughout her term as governor.

    The protests and debate over the bill has at times dominated the New Mexico political scene.

    In addition to Rue, Senators Mark Moores of Albuquerque, Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho, Lee Cotter of Las Cruces and Cliff Pirtle of Roswell voted against the bill. All are Republicans and all but Rue are in thier first term.

    Senate passes two-tiered driver’s license bill

    By 

    PUBLISHED: Friday, March 20, 2015 at 11:32 am

    The state Senate today voted 35-5 for a bill creating a two-tiered driver’s license system in New Mexico that would allow immigrants who are in the country illegally to get driver’s licenses.

    Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is opposed to the legislation, but the bill had bipartisan backing and picked up the votes of Republican senators as well as Democrats.

    Its sponsors, Democrat John Arthur Smith of Deming and Republican Stuart Ingle of Portales, said it’s time to resolve the controversial issue that lawmakers have been wrestling with for five years.

    The bill passed the Senate with just over 24 hours left in the 60-day legislative session. It now goes to the House, which already has passed a bill that would stop the issuance of driver’s licenses to those who are in the U.S. illegally.

    Senate Bill 653 would allow immigrants who are in the country illegally, and any other New Mexicans who wanted to, to continue to get regular driver’s licenses. New Mexicans with a lawful presence in the country, and who want a license that complies with the federal REAL ID Act, could get a gold-starred, enhanced license that would ensure access to federal facilities and to commercial airliners if the federal government were to begin enforcing the REAL ID Act.

     

    Compromise on driver’s licenses advances to full Senate

    Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 7:00 pm | Updated: 7:24 pm, Thu Mar 19, 2015.

    By Milan Simonich
    The New Mexican

    Three Republican state senators broke from Gov. Susana Martinez’s camp Thursday on the contentious issue of granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

    They joined Democratic colleagues in supporting a compromise bill that Martinez’s administration opposed. The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 9-1 vote and advanced to the full Senate with just two days left in the legislative session.

     Republican Sens. Ron Griggs of Alamogordo and Lisa Torraco and Bill Payne, both of Albuquerque, voted to advance the compromise measure. This marked the first time since Martinez took office in 2011 that fellow Republicans in the Legislature have voted against her position on driver’s licenses.

    The bill the senators supported would create two tiers of licenses.

    One license would be available to any resident of the state. It would be demarcated as “not for federal purposes,” such as entering a restricted federal building. Undocumented immigrants could qualify for this license. Other residents of the state also could obtain it if they didn’t want a driver’s license that was recognized under the federal Real ID Act.

    The other license would be for New Mexico residents who are living legally in the United States. This driver’s license also would be accepted by federal agencies for official purposes under the Real ID Act.

    Congress approved the Real ID law in 2005, a controversial means of improving national security. Two dozen states have protested it as an unfunded mandate. Some, such as Arizona, have even decided not to follow the federal law.

    New Mexico, though, wants to comply. Two of its more conservative state senators, Democrat John Arthur Smith of Deming and Republican Stuart Ingle of Portales, say their two-tier licensing bill would make New Mexico compliant with the federal law and still enable undocumented immigrants to drive lawfully.

    Both Smith and Ingle had previously supported Martinez’s repeal initiatives. Smith said the constant political bickering over driver’s licenses motivated him and Ingle to propose a compromise.

    Now, with Torraco, Payne and Griggs helping to advance their bill, it has good chance of clearing the Senate with bipartisan support. The bill would face a tougher time gaining acceptance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which approved a repeal bill that was to be heard in a Senate committee late Thursday.

    Demesia Padilla, Martinez’s Cabinet secretary of the Taxation and Revenue Department, testified against Smith and Ingle’s bill Thursday.

    “I don’t like this bill because it will create much more confusion,” Padilla said.

    She also said it wouldn’t make the state compliant with the federal Real ID law. Smith disagreed with Padilla’s assessment.

    Other senators sparred with Padilla as the hearing turned adversarial.

    Sen. Joseph Cervantes asked her how many states have a law like the one Smith and Ingle are proposing. Padilla spoke at length but didn’t answer the question.

    “Secretary, if you don’t know, it’s OK,” said Cervantes, D-Las Cruces.

    Seven states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have licensing laws similar to New Mexico’s. Padilla incorrectly said all but New Mexico and Washington state issue privilege cards, not actual driver’s licenses.

    Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, said Gov. Martinez was not interested in a compromise, given her staff’s opposition to a bill that would satisfy her previous call for compliance with the Real ID law.

    “I don’t think we’re ever going to satisfy this administration,” Sen. Martinez said.

    The governor’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

    Allen Sánchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, supports the compromise bill. He said Gov. Martinez’s opposition to the measure shows that she wants to keep the licensing issue alive for political purposes as a wedge issue.

    “The governor has been exposed,” Sánchez said in an interview after the hearing. “She wants to pander to her anti-immigrant base when this bill really helps people on the ground.”

    If none of the bills are approved, which is a distinct possibility, undocumented immigrants could continue to obtain driver’s licenses if they provide documentation of their identity and residency in New Mexico.

    Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

     

    Senate panel approves two-tiered driver’s license system

    By 
    PUBLISHED: Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee today joined Democrats to pass a bipartisan bill creating a two-tiered driver’s license system that allows the continued issuance of licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

    Senate Bill 653 was approved on a vote of 8-1, with one Republican opposed.

    The bill, which is opposed by the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, now goes to the full Senate.

    It is sponsored by Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming and Republican Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales.

    It would allow immigrants who are here illegally — and any other New Mexicans who want to — to continue to get regular driver’s licenses. It also creates a second tier of licenses that would be compliant with the federal REAL ID Act, which seeks to have nationally standardized identification cards.

    Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla told the Judiciary Committee the administration opposes the bill. She said it would be too confusing and wouldn’t stop driver’s license fraud.

    She said the Martinez administration supports having REAL ID-compliant licenses for all New Mexicans who are in the country legally, and a driver’s privilege card for those who aren’t.

    The administration also has supported a House-passed bill that would halt the issuance of licenses to immigrants in the country illegally.

    Smith told the committee that in the past, he has supported the governor’s effort to repeal the 2003 law that allows those not in the U.S. legally to get licenses. But he told the committee he has changed his mind.

    He said living in a border county, he sees the value of a reliable agricultural work force that is licensed to drive. He said a lot of people in his district don’t want REAL ID-compliant licenses even though they are in the U.S. legallly. And he said it’s time to resolve the issue.

    Governor: Panel ignored ‘true two-tier license’ system

    By 
    PUBLISHED: Saturday, March 14, 2015

    SANTA FE – A driver’s license bill approved by a Senate committee was hailed by supporters as a compromise on a divisive issue, but Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says otherwise.

    Her office said Friday that she “absolutely” does not support the bill that cleared the Democratic-controlled Public Affairs Committee Thursday night, in part because it would allow for the continued issuance of driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

    According to a spokesman, the Governor’s Office had worked on a substitute proposal that was circulated among legislators earlier Thursday. It was not considered by the committee.

    Instead, the committee passed Senate Bill 653, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales and Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming.

    It would create a two-tier driver’s license system. New Mexicans – including those here illegally – could continue to get regular driver’s licenses, although they would be stamped “Not For Federal Purposes.”

    New Mexicans who wanted to – and who provided a Social Security number or proof they’re here legally – could opt for a license with a different color and design that is intended to comply with federal REAL ID guidelines.

    The federal law seeks to standardize state identification cards.

    Immigrant rights advocates called the Ingle-Smith bill a “welcome breakthrough” because it wouldn’t discriminate against immigrants or do away with the licenses they are eligible for under a 2003 law.

    The proposed substitute that was circulated would have created a REAL ID-compliant license and then a driving privilege card for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

    Michael Lonergan, a spokesman for the governor, called that bill a “true two-tier license system.”

    Senate Public Affairs Committee Chairman Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, said that the proposal could not survive the Senate and that the committee would not vote on it.

    “It’s like a declaration, ‘I’m in this country without papers,’” and could put those drivers in jeopardy of being turned over to immigration officials if they were detained, he told the committee.

    Having a license or card that identifies someone as an immigrant in the U.S. illegally is typically referred to by opponents as a “scarlet letter” system and immigrant groups have resisted it.

    Martinez backs House-passed legislation, House Bill 32, that would halt the issuance of driver’s licenses to those in the U.S. illegally – effectively undoing the 2003 law – and make New Mexico licenses REAL ID-compliant.

    The Martinez administration contends the bill that passed Public Affairs would not create licenses that would meet REAL ID standards.

    The Taxation and Revenue Department, in an analysis done for legislators, said the bill lacks language required under federal law that governs what foreign nationals must provide when renewing a driver’s license. The analysis also said the bill would allow documents not permissible under federal regulations to be used to establish an applicant’s age.

    The bill’s supporters contend the licenses issued under the legislation to those who show proof they are in the U.S. legally would be REAL ID-compliant.

    Lonergan said the Ingle-Smith proposal “failed in the House, isn’t REAL ID-compliant and continues to offer a driver’s license to illegal immigrants.” The same proposal was offered, and rejected, during debate over House Bill 32.

     

    Compromise on immigrant licenses clears committee

    Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2015 11:00 pm | Updated: 12:37 am, Fri Mar 13, 2015.

    By Milan Simonich
    The New Mexican |

    A Senate committee voted late Thursday for a compromise bill that would make New Mexico compliant with the federal Real ID Act while still enabling undocumented immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses.

    The measure cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee on a 5-3, party-line vote. All three Republicans on the panel opposed the bill. Two of them, though, said they may change their minds if it reaches the floor for a vote by all 42 senators.

    Gov. Susana Martinez for four years has been pushing to repeal the 2003 law that enables New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to get a driver’s license. Martinez, a Republican, has called the law dangerous and said it threatens border and national security.

    But now two conservative senators, Democrat John Arthur Smith of Deming and Republican Stuart Ingle of Portales, are sponsoring the compromise bill. Both previously supported Martinez’s repeal initiatives.

    Smith, who presented the compromise bill to the committee, said he was tired of the long, bitter political standoff over driver’s licenses.

    “Senator Ingle and I began talking early in the session, and we said, ‘My gosh, we’ve got to come together on this,’ ” Smith said.

    Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said she was encouraged by the committee advancing the compromise bill.

    “We think this is a real breakthrough. This has moved the conversation to a more thoughtful point on policy and one that does not punish immigrants,” Diaz said.

    But she also criticized the three Republican committee members, Gay Kernan of Hobbs, Ron Griggs of Alamogordo and Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho. Diaz said Republicans for years have said they wanted a bill to make the state compliant with Real ID Act, but then they voted against it when it was in front of them.

    Brandt said he wanted to do more research to make sure the bill indeed would comport with the federal law, approved after the terrorist attacks of 2001 to tighten security. Griggs said he also wanted to review the bill more carefully.

    Allen Sánchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, saw the bill as a means of opening the door for Republicans simpy to offer a substitute proposal that would be harsher on immigrants.

    “I am afraid this is a Trojan horse on its way to the floor,” Sánchez said.

    The state’s three Catholic bishops want driver’s licenses for immigrants to be continued because they say the law helps families earn a living and educate their children. An estimated 100,000 foreign nationals have New Mexico driver’s licenses.

    Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, was one of the five Democrats who voted for the compromise bill.

    “As a state legislator, I truly regret how politicized this issue has become,” he said.

    O’Neill, without mentioning Martinez by name, criticized her. “This driver’s license issue has nothing to do with policy. It is all about politics.”

    Members of Martinez’s Motor Vehicle Division did not speak against the compromise bill. This also was a change, as Martinez’s administration has steadfastly pushed for a repeal of the driver’s license law, not a legitimate two-tiered system in which immigrants would have a demarcated license.

    Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

    Senate panel OK’s two-tiered driver’s license bill

    By 
    UPDATED: Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 11:50 pm
    PUBLISHED: Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    The Senate Public Affairs Committee late Thursday approved the creation of a two-tiered driver’s license system that would allow those who are in the country illegally to continue to get licenses.

    The legislation counters a bill backed by Gov. Susana Martinez – and passed by the House – that would ban the issuance of such licenses.

    Senate Bill 653 passed the committee on a 5-3 vote, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans against.

    It would have to clear two more committees before reaching the full Senate for a vote.

    Supporters labeled it a “promising compromise” that would make New Mexico compliant with the federal REAL ID Act without stigmatizing immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

    Senate Finance Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said he and Senate Republican leader Stuart Ingle of Portales joined forces to sponsor the bill because they concluded “we’ve got to come together on this” and get the issue settled.

    Smith has previously supported the governor’s push to repeal the 2003 law that allows the issuance of licenses to people who are in the country illegally.

    Compliance with the post-9/11 REAL ID Act – with its more stringent requirements for state identification cards – is one of the stated goals of the Martinez-backed bill that passed the House.

    But House Bill 32 goes beyond that, overturning the 2003 law. An estimated 100,000 licenses have been issued to immigrants who are in the country illegally since the law was passed.

    Martinez has made it a priority since her 2010 election to undo the 2003 law. She contends it poses a threat to public safety and has made New Mexico a magnet for criminal activity.

    Opponents of repeal contend that it’s anti-immigrant, and that having immigrants who are illegally in the country licensed and insured makes the state safer.

    “From Day One, it has felt like politics, and this really should be policy,” complained Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque.

    Repeal legislation has passed the House but never made it to the full Senate for a vote; the Public Affairs Committee has repeatedly rejected it.

    The Ingle-Smith bill would have New Mexico issuing two types of licenses: those that would be REAL ID-compliant – requiring a Social Security number or proof of lawful presence in the U.S. – and those that wouldn’t be.

    The 2005 REAL ID Act aims to standardize state identification cards. If it were enforced, people would have to have REAL ID-compliant identifications to fly on commercial airlines or enter federal buildings.

    Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said there are plenty of people across the political spectrum who don’t want REAL ID-compliant licenses even if they qualify for them, and the legislation would give them the option of getting them or not.

    New Mexico Senate panel OKs two-tier driver’s licenses; 1 for federal use and the other not

    bug

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    March 13, 2015 – 12:28 am EDT

    SANTA FE, New Mexico — A New Mexico Senate panel has approved a driver’s license bill that proposes a system to issue two distinct licenses, allowing those suspected of being in the country illegally to still have driving privileges.

    The bill approved Thursday night by Republican Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales and Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming calls for one driver’s license that complies with federal requirements and another that does not.

    The House last month rejected an amendment akin to the long-serving senators’ joint proposal and approved a bill 39-29 to end the state’s practice of giving driver’s licenses to people even if they can’t prove they are in the country legally.

    The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-3 to approve the bill after taking brief testimony and a short debate, sending the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Two-tiered driver’s license bill passes Senate committee

    By  

    NM Political Report

    March 12, 2015 11:53 pm

    Legislation some are calling a compromise driver’s license bill passed a Senate committee on a party line vote.

    The Senate Public Affairs Committee approved SB 653 sponsored by Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, which would create a two-tier driver’s license system for New Mexico.

    According to the bill, drivers who are in the country with a “lawful presence” could obtain a license that complies with the federal Real ID mandate. Others who cannot provide a social security number or proof of “lawful presence”, would be able to obtain a license to allow them to drive but would not be valid for some federal purposes.

    The House rejected a two-tier license plan when the chamber passed the law repealing the controversial law that allows those in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. Repealing the law has been a top priority for Gov. Susana Martinez since she was elected.

    Democratic members spoke out in favor of the bill and said it was a driver’s license bill that they could finally vote for.

    Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, told the committee that he had been struggling with the issue of licenses for a while and could never come up with a bill he thought would work. About SB 653, he said, “It seems to really meld.”

    Republicans on the panel were not so quick to praise the bill.

    Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, said she was concerned about a substitute bill that was supposed to be added. According to Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who presented the bill on behalf of Ingle, there was a substitute bill from the sponsor that would have changed the licenses for those who do not want or cannot get a Real ID license.

    Kernan expressed her disappointment that the substitute bill was not added as that was what she was familiar with and would vote for. She warned the crowd that federal requirements would force the state to comply one way or another.

    “If this does not happen this year, this will be a shared responsibility,” Kernan said. “I want everyone in this room to understand It’s not going to be just one side responsible for this.”

    Chair Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, told the committee that he saw the substitute bill as more oppressive to some immigrants and created a “stigma”. He pointed out that the original bill allowed all drivers to opt out of the Real ID compliant licence and therefore would not identify those who do not have proper documentation to be in the U.S.

    No member made a motion to introduce the substitute bill.

    All three Republicans, who all voted against the bill, told the committee they were not familiar with the bill enough to vote for it.

    Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, said he would take a closer look at it before it gets to its next stop in the Senate Judiciary Committee, a group of which he is also a member.

    If the bill does pass the Senate, it is an open question if the House would approve such a bill. And even then, Martinez has indicated that she does not support such legislation in the past.

    It wouldn’t be the first time that the Senate tried to pass a compromise bill. In 2012, the Senate passed a bill Democrats said was a compromise but it had no traction in the House.

     

    Senators seek compromise on immigrant license law

    Feb 21, 2015

    By Milan Simonich
    The New Mexican

    Immigrant family feels impact of license law battle raging inside the Capitol

    Patricia, an undocumented immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico, drives to her home in Tesuque on Friday. Under a 2003 state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, she is able to drive legally in the state, which she says is necessary so she can get to work, get her daughter to school in the mornings and buy groceries and other household goods. New Mexico is one of 10 states in the country that allow immigrants to apply for a driver’s license regardless of immigration status. But Gov. Susana Martinez has asked that lawmakers pass a bill during the current 60-day legislative session that would repeal the license law. A new measure would strike a compromise that would allow immigrants to get licenses. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

    Feb 21, 2015

    By Milan Simonich
    The New Mexican

    Two of the New Mexico Legislature’s longest-serving members have introduced a last-minute bill that they say is intended to forge a compromise on the controversial law that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

    Sens. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, have introduced legislation to make the state compliant with the federal Real ID law, but still allow residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a New Mexico driver’s license.

    Smith said he would vote for this bill to allow undocumented immigrants to receive a driver’s license, even though he has previously voted to repeal the law.

    “We’ve got a lot of workers in my part of the state that we don’t want to displace,” he said in an interview. “It’s the same with the dairy industry in Stuart’s area.”

    Smith says he doesn’t know if the bill has any chance of advancing, even as a bipartisan proposal.

    Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has campaigned for four years to repeal the licensing law, which she says endangers border and national security. She is at odds with most Democrats in the Legislature, who say the licensing law makes roads safer and helps the economy because the work immigrants do is critical to agriculture, oil and gas and other industries.

    “We’re trying to have a conversation with the Governor’s Office to see if we can find a 50-yard line,” Smith said.

    But, he said, he doesn’t know if Martinez would consider anything less than a repeal or if his own Democratic caucus would be amenable to an alternative law when they are satisfied with the one that is on the books.

    Martinez’s spokesman said the administration was open to at least talking about the bill. “We have concerns with the legislation as drafted, but as always we are happy to work with the senators to find common ground on this important issue,” he said.

    Ingle would not commit to voting for the bill that he has introduced with Smith, but said he has one objective.

    “I’ll do anything I can to solve the problem,” Ingle said.

    Like Smith, Ingle has previously voted to repeal the licensing law.

    Smith and Ingle, both members of the Senate since the 1980s, did not write the bill they are sponsoring. It is a duplicate of one introduced recently by Democratic House Minority Leader Brian Egolf of Santa Fe.

    “It’s getting late in the session, and I needed a bill title,” Smith said.

    House Republicans rejected Egolf’s bill this month, and instead approved a repeal measure favored by the governor.

    But the bill that made it through the Republican-controlled House faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats are the party in power. The majority leader, Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, has said the existing licensing law works well, and he wants to keep it in place.

    Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, said the continued attempts to repeal the licensing law have taken time and energy away from more important issues.

    “The sidebar distraction goes on when we should be focused on the budget, poverty, child well-being,” Morales said.

    Smith said his intent in introducing the bill is to break the logjam. The bill has three committee assignments, lessening its chances of getting through the Senate. Ingle, though, said his hope is that the bill starts a discussion that will lead to a compromise.

    Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

    Monday, February 16, 2015http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/
    Garcia Richard

    Some Dems are sniping at Los Alamos area state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard after she joined the R’s last week in voting to repeal driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, a perennial issue that seems to be Richard’s brier patch.

    In 2013, she got into with Gov. Martinez over a procedural vote that the Governor claimed was a vote to kill the repeal. After that hit Richard said she would no longer be held hostage by Martinez and would only vote for repeal if Martinez crafted a compromise. In the 2014 session the repeal stalled in committee.

    It was expected the Guv’s political machine would hammer Richard over the issue in the ’14 election in her Republican leaning district, but the machine could not come up with a suitable candidate. Richard cruised past her opponent 57% to 43%. She is now serving her second term.

    The snipers say Richard should have voted against the repeal given that Dem interest groups backed her campaign.

    Richard was one of two Dems–the other being Deming conservative Donna Irwin–who voted with the R’s to repeal the licences and send the bill to the Senate on a 39 to 29 vote. That’s actually fewer Dems supporting the repeal than in the past and is making repeal opponents optimistic that they can hold the Senate.

    This is the home of New Mexico politics.

    Reasons for optimism for immigrant advocates

    Roundhouse Roundup

    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Steve Terrell

    The New Mexico House of Representatives had just voted to repeal the 12-year-old law that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. And Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos un Pueblo Unido — a statewide immigrant-rights group that for years has been battling the repeal of the law — was happy.

    Diaz was in the Capitol media room making the rounds with the reporters covering the session. She’d just come up from the first floor of the Roundhouse, where she’d met with dozens of her members who had come to the Capitol wearing yellow T-shirts with messages like “Children Over Politics,” “My mother is an immigrant” and “Keep our parents’ licenses.” The crowd applauded when freshman Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque walked by. Three hours before, speaking against House Bill 32 during debate on the bill, Martinez had told fellow representatives that he was born in Juárez and had come to the U.S. as an immigrant at the age of 7.

    “People came from all over the state,” Diaz told reporters in the media room. “We had 90 people from Clovis. Clovis!”

    But why was Diaz so happy right after the House voted 39-29 to repeal the driver’s license law?

    Because, she explained, the House Democrats, while now outnumbered by Republicans, stuck together against the repeal more than they ever have since Susana Martinez became governor in 2011 and began pushing to get rid of the law. While the House Republicans were touting the vote as a bipartisan victory, it wasn’t nearly as bipartisan as years past.

    Only two Democrats voted for the bill Thursday: Reps. Dona Irwin of Deming, who has voted that way since 2011, and Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos, who represents a “swing” district that was held by Republicans for decades before she won her seat in 2012.

    Diaz noted that in 2012, four Democrats had voted on the House floor to “blast” the repeal bill out of the Labor Committee, while in 2011 there were eight Democrats who joined the Republicans to vote for the license repeal.

    But looking back at the various attempts to repeal what the GOP has for years called the “dangerous law that allows illegal immigrants to receive a New Mexico driver’s license,” the high water for bipartisanship actually came in 2012, when 11 Dems joined that effort. Even though Democrats controlled the House that year, the margin in favor of the repeal was 45-25, much wider than the vote last week.

    Those Democrats were the eight who voted for it the year before: Irwin plus Reps. Ray Begaye of Shiprock; Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces; Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint; Rhonda King of Stanley; Patty Lundstrom of Gallup; Al Park of Albuquerque; and Debbie Rodella of Española. They were joined in 2012 by Rep. George Dodge of Santa Rosa, Henry “Kiki” Saavedra of Albuquerque and Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh.

    Most of those lawmakers are no longer in the House — for a variety of reasons.

    Begaye, who was involved in an ethics scandal lost re-election in 2012. Cervantes left his House seat and successfully won a seat in the Senate that year. Park ran for a Public Regulation Commission seat in 2012 but lost in the Democratic primary. King didn’t seek re-election in 2012 after 12 years in the Legislature, while Saavedra, who served for 38 years, didn’t run again in 2012. Jeff — who voted with Republicans on several key issues — failed to get the 78 signatures on nominating petitions required for the Democratic primary last year, so she wasn’t on the ballot.

    While Rodella and Lundstrom voted with Republicans to “blast” the repeal bill in 2013 (as did then-Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Las Cruces, who lost her primary last year), both voted against HB 32 last week, as did Salazar and Dodge.

    True, the polls still show strong support for repealing the driver’s license law. And Republicans won control of the House campaigning on the issue, though it’s impossible to say whether driver’s licenses was the main factor in all the individual House races where the GOP picked up seats.

    But Diaz is hopeful the more cohesive opposition among the House Dems will hold in the state Senate.

    Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnew mexican.com. Read his political blog at http://tinyurl.com/roundhouseroundup.

    Santa Fe County sheriff says he doesn’t back repeal of immigrant license law

    By Steve Terrell
    The New Mexican
    February 13, 2015
    Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia wants it known that despite anything said during a debate on the House floor this week, he does not support repealing the law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.
    Such claims were made during Thursday’s debate on House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque.
    “I’ve never been for repealing this law,” Garcia told The New Mexican on Friday. “I support a compromise. … Immigrants are going to drive. They need to take their children to school, to drive to work. I know a lot of immigrants. They’re good, hardworking people.”
    And despite what many supporters of the bill say, the sheriff said, “This is not a public safety issue.”
    The House passed HB 32 by a vote of 39-29.
    Pacheco, who is a former Albuquerque police officer, said during the debate that all 33 county sheriffs in the state supported the repeal. He also said that “all but one police chief” in the state supports it.
    Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said during Thursday’s debate on the bill that the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the sheriff’s association, support repeal of the law.
    “Nobody [from the association] ever called me about it,” Garcia said. He said he’d been in contact Friday with another sheriff who also said he wasn’t contacted by the association.
    Jack Levick, executive director of the association, said Friday that the association endorsed HB 32 at its Jan. 20 meeting in Santa Fe.
    Repealing the driver’s license law has been a legislative priority for Gov. Susana Martinez since she became governor in 2011. HB 32 now goes to the Senate.
    Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at http://tinyurl.com/Roundhouseroundup.

    House passes repeal of immigrant license law

    Thursday, February 12, 2015 9:00 pm | Updated: 11:28 pm, Thu Feb 12, 2015.

    By Steve Terrell
    The New Mexican

    The state House of Representatives voted roughly along party lines Thursday to pass a bill that would repeal the law that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to people who can’t prove their citizenship.As has been the case in other House debates this year over controversial legislation, Republicans, knowing they had the numbers to pass the bill, let the Democrats do most of the talking during a three-hour debate.The bill’s approval by the Republican-controlled House means the bill will go to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which in previous years has rejected similar driver’s license bills.Repeal of the licensing provision has been a legislative priority for Gov. Susana Martinez since she first took office in 2011.

    All Republican House members voted in favor of House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque. They were joined by two Democrats: Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos and Rep. Donna Irwin of Deming.

    Dozens of people in yellow T-shirts from the immigrant rights group Somos un Pueblo Unido — including several young parents and their children — watched the debate from the gallery. The shirts bore the slogan “Children Over Politics.” On the back of some of the children’s shirts were the words “Keep our parents’ licenses.”

    At one point in the debate, House Democratic Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton of Albuquerque told House members to look up at the people in the gallery. She asked Pacheco what would happen to undocumented parents who needed to drive.

    Pacheco said they could keep their current licenses until they expire. Pacheco said he hopes that by then, those parents could get proper documents. Stapleton was one of several Democrats who stressed the effects that a repeal of the driver’s license law would have on families.

    Rep Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, spoke from a personal point of view. He told the House that he came to the U.S. at the age of 7 as an immigrant. While his parents came here legally, he said, his family lived “as any other immigrant family, documented or undocumented.”

    Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, who is a former police officer, said police are safer if undocumented workers are licensed. That was disputed by another former police officer, Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque. Rehm said the state Fraternal Order of Police and the state’s association of county sheriffs support Pacheco’s bill.

    Though most of the debate was relatively civil, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said after the debate, “The notion that this bill is for public safety is a lie.”

    The House Democratic floor leader, Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, introduced a substitute bill that he said would be compliant with the federal Real ID Act, which mandates stricter standards for state government-issued identification. Egolf’s proposal would have created a two-tiered system for driver’s licenses, as some other states have done.

    Under this plan, a resident who lacks proof of citizenship could be issued a card that couldn’t be used for “federal purposes,” such as entering federal buildings or boarding commercial airplanes.

    Pacheco acknowledged that seven states have two-tiered driver’s licenses to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses.

    Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, noted that several states that are compliant with the Real ID Act also grant licenses to undocumented immigrants.Martinez and her allies in the Legislature have routinely argued against such proposals in past legislative sessions.

    As expected, the House voted down Egolf’s proposed substitute by a 38-30 margin.

    All House Republicans were joined by Garcia Richard.After the vote, the Los Alamos legislator said she voted for the bill because she had promised to do so while campaigning for her seat in 2012, the first year she was elected to the House.“It’s extremely important to people in my district,” she said.

    Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at http://tinyurl.com/Roundhouseroundup.

    House OKs bill to repeal driver’s license law

    Nallely Enriquez, 17, and her cousin Jessica Enriquez, 12, of Pojoaque, were among dozens of people who showed up at the Roundhouse on Thursday to oppose a bill to repeal a law that allows people who are in the country illegally to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

    By Deborah Baker / Journal Staff Writer

    PUBLISHED: Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    The state House on Thursday passed a bill to halt New Mexico’s issuance of driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, sending it to the Senate and an uncertain future.

    The House voted 39-29 for the legislation, with all 37 Republicans and two Democrats in favor.Repealing the 2003 law that allows for those licenses has been a top priority for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez since she was elected in 2010 and has been made a campaign issue in legislative races.

    The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said the 2003 law was a mistake. His bill, he said, is an effort to make New Mexico driver’s licenses more secure and to meet the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act.“I am trying to make the state safer,” Pacheco said during a three-hour debate on the House floor.

    Opponents of repeal said the administration is playing politics with the issue, the driver’s license fraud it repeatedly cites has been exaggerated, and the bill could be unconstitutional.

    The House has twice before – in 2011 and 2012 – passed similar legislation, only to have it die in the Senate. This year’s outcome in the House was assured because Republicans control the chamber as a result of the 2014 general election.Under House Bill 32, licenses already held by immigrants who are in the country illegally would remain valid until they expired, but could not be renewed.

    “Once they were expired, my goal for them would be that they would attempt to get the necessary documentation … the proper stuff for a driver’s license,” Pacheco said.

    Foreign nationals who document they are authorized to be in the country could get limited driver’s licenses, which would expire when the authorization ended, under the bill.Pacheco described the legislation as “legally sound.”

    The federal REAL ID Act aimed at standardizing state identification cards after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.The bill’s opponents said New Mexico could come into line with the federal law without having to discontinue licenses for immigrants.

    Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, offered an alternative he said would solve the problem of REAL ID compliance.It would have made available gold-starred, REAL ID-compliant licenses to those who want them and can qualify for them, and regular licenses for others – including those in the country illegally.The proposed substitute, which essentially would have created a two-tiered system of licenses, was rejected 38-30.

    Democrats opposed to House Bill 32 said it would effectively criminalize tens of thousands of New Mexicans who would no longer be able to legally drive or to register and insure their vehicles.Parents of an estimated 90,000 children would no longer be able to take them to school, church, doctors’ appointments or hospitals, opponents said.

    “When we punish an undocumented immigrant for nothing more than wanting to provide for their children … you punish every single one of us,” said Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque.“So stop playing politics with our families. Stop playing politics with our kids’ lives. Stop punishing us,”

    Martinez said.Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said the New Mexico Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police support repeal of the law, because they don’t believe it has made streets safer or lowered the incidence of uninsured drivers.

    But Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, said that since the 2003 law passed, “it’s been easier for law enforcement to conduct investigations, identify the people that are victimizing our community.” Ruiloba, a former Albuquerque police officer currently working with Albuquerque Public Schools, said the ability to identify drivers makes traffic stops less dangerous for police.

    Democratic Reps. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos and Dona Irwin of Deming joined Republicans in voting for the bill. Absent were Democratic Reps. Luciano “Lucky” Varela of Santa Fe and Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque.

     

    ——

     

    Reasons for optimism for immigrant advocates

    Roundhouse Roundup

    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Steve Terrell

    The New Mexico House of Representatives had just voted to repeal the 12-year-old law that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. And Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos un Pueblo Unido — a statewide immigrant-rights group that for years has been battling the repeal of the law — was happy.

    Diaz was in the Capitol media room making the rounds with the reporters covering the session. She’d just come up from the first floor of the Roundhouse, where she’d met with dozens of her members who had come to the Capitol wearing yellow T-shirts with messages like “Children Over Politics,” “My mother is an immigrant” and “Keep our parents’ licenses.” The crowd applauded when freshman Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque walked by. Three hours before, speaking against House Bill 32 during debate on the bill, Martinez had told fellow representatives that he was born in Juárez and had come to the U.S. as an immigrant at the age of 7.

    “People came from all over the state,” Diaz told reporters in the media room. “We had 90 people from Clovis. Clovis!”

    But why was Diaz so happy right after the House voted 39-29 to repeal the driver’s license law?

    Because, she explained, the House Democrats, while now outnumbered by Republicans, stuck together against the repeal more than they ever have since Susana Martinez became governor in 2011 and began pushing to get rid of the law. While the House Republicans were touting the vote as a bipartisan victory, it wasn’t nearly as bipartisan as years past.

    Only two Democrats voted for the bill Thursday: Reps. Dona Irwin of Deming, who has voted that way since 2011, and Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos, who represents a “swing” district that was held by Republicans for decades before she won her seat in 2012.

    Diaz noted that in 2012, four Democrats had voted on the House floor to “blast” the repeal bill out of the Labor Committee, while in 2011 there were eight Democrats who joined the Republicans to vote for the license repeal.

    But looking back at the various attempts to repeal what the GOP has for years called the “dangerous law that allows illegal immigrants to receive a New Mexico driver’s license,” the high water for bipartisanship actually came in 2012, when 11 Dems joined that effort. Even though Democrats controlled the House that year, the margin in favor of the repeal was 45-25, much wider than the vote last week.

    Those Democrats were the eight who voted for it the year before: Irwin plus Reps. Ray Begaye of Shiprock; Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces; Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint; Rhonda King of Stanley; Patty Lundstrom of Gallup; Al Park of Albuquerque; and Debbie Rodella of Española. They were joined in 2012 by Rep. George Dodge of Santa Rosa, Henry “Kiki” Saavedra of Albuquerque and Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh.

    Most of those lawmakers are no longer in the House — for a variety of reasons.

    Begaye, who was involved in an ethics scandal lost re-election in 2012. Cervantes left his House seat and successfully won a seat in the Senate that year. Park ran for a Public Regulation Commission seat in 2012 but lost in the Democratic primary. King didn’t seek re-election in 2012 after 12 years in the Legislature, while Saavedra, who served for 38 years, didn’t run again in 2012. Jeff — who voted with Republicans on several key issues — failed to get the 78 signatures on nominating petitions required for the Democratic primary last year, so she wasn’t on the ballot.

    While Rodella and Lundstrom voted with Republicans to “blast” the repeal bill in 2013 (as did then-Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Las Cruces, who lost her primary last year), both voted against HB 32 last week, as did Salazar and Dodge.

    True, the polls still show strong support for repealing the driver’s license law. And Republicans won control of the House campaigning on the issue, though it’s impossible to say whether driver’s licenses was the main factor in all the individual House races where the GOP picked up seats.

    But Diaz is hopeful the more cohesive opposition among the House Dems will hold in the state Senate.

    Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnew mexican.com. Read his political blog at http://tinyurl.com/roundhouseroundup.

    Santa Fe County sheriff says he doesn’t back repeal of immigrant license law

    By Steve Terrell
    The New Mexican
    February 13, 2015
    Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia wants it known that despite anything said during a debate on the House floor this week, he does not support repealing the law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.
    Such claims were made during Thursday’s debate on House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque.
    “I’ve never been for repealing this law,” Garcia told The New Mexican on Friday. “I support a compromise. … Immigrants are going to drive. They need to take their children to school, to drive to work. I know a lot of immigrants. They’re good, hardworking people.”
    And despite what many supporters of the bill say, the sheriff said, “This is not a public safety issue.”
    The House passed HB 32 by a vote of 39-29.
    Pacheco, who is a former Albuquerque police officer, said during the debate that all 33 county sheriffs in the state supported the repeal. He also said that “all but one police chief” in the state supports it.
    Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said during Thursday’s debate on the bill that the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the sheriff’s association, support repeal of the law.
    “Nobody [from the association] ever called me about it,” Garcia said. He said he’d been in contact Friday with another sheriff who also said he wasn’t contacted by the association.
    Jack Levick, executive director of the association, said Friday that the association endorsed HB 32 at its Jan. 20 meeting in Santa Fe.
    Repealing the driver’s license law has been a legislative priority for Gov. Susana Martinez since she became governor in 2011. HB 32 now goes to the Senate.
    Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at http://tinyurl.com/Roundhouseroundup.

    House passes repeal of immigrant license law

    Thursday, February 12, 2015 9:00 pm | Updated: 11:28 pm, Thu Feb 12, 2015.

    By Steve Terrell
    The New Mexican

    The state House of Representatives voted roughly along party lines Thursday to pass a bill that would repeal the law that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to people who can’t prove their citizenship.As has been the case in other House debates this year over controversial legislation, Republicans, knowing they had the numbers to pass the bill, let the Democrats do most of the talking during a three-hour debate.The bill’s approval by the Republican-controlled House means the bill will go to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which in previous years has rejected similar driver’s license bills.Repeal of the licensing provision has been a legislative priority for Gov. Susana Martinez since she first took office in 2011.

    All Republican House members voted in favor of House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque. They were joined by two Democrats: Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos and Rep. Donna Irwin of Deming.

    Dozens of people in yellow T-shirts from the immigrant rights group Somos un Pueblo Unido — including several young parents and their children — watched the debate from the gallery. The shirts bore the slogan “Children Over Politics.” On the back of some of the children’s shirts were the words “Keep our parents’ licenses.”

    At one point in the debate, House Democratic Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton of Albuquerque told House members to look up at the people in the gallery. She asked Pacheco what would happen to undocumented parents who needed to drive.

    Pacheco said they could keep their current licenses until they expire. Pacheco said he hopes that by then, those parents could get proper documents. Stapleton was one of several Democrats who stressed the effects that a repeal of the driver’s license law would have on families.

    Rep Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, spoke from a personal point of view. He told the House that he came to the U.S. at the age of 7 as an immigrant. While his parents came here legally, he said, his family lived “as any other immigrant family, documented or undocumented.”

    Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, who is a former police officer, said police are safer if undocumented workers are licensed. That was disputed by another former police officer, Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque. Rehm said the state Fraternal Order of Police and the state’s association of county sheriffs support Pacheco’s bill.

    Though most of the debate was relatively civil, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said after the debate, “The notion that this bill is for public safety is a lie.”

    The House Democratic floor leader, Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, introduced a substitute bill that he said would be compliant with the federal Real ID Act, which mandates stricter standards for state government-issued identification. Egolf’s proposal would have created a two-tiered system for driver’s licenses, as some other states have done.

    Under this plan, a resident who lacks proof of citizenship could be issued a card that couldn’t be used for “federal purposes,” such as entering federal buildings or boarding commercial airplanes.

    Pacheco acknowledged that seven states have two-tiered driver’s licenses to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses.

    Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, noted that several states that are compliant with the Real ID Act also grant licenses to undocumented immigrants.Martinez and her allies in the Legislature have routinely argued against such proposals in past legislative sessions.

    As expected, the House voted down Egolf’s proposed substitute by a 38-30 margin.

    All House Republicans were joined by Garcia Richard.After the vote, the Los Alamos legislator said she voted for the bill because she had promised to do so while campaigning for her seat in 2012, the first year she was elected to the House.“It’s extremely important to people in my district,” she said.

    Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at http://tinyurl.com/Roundhouseroundup.

     

     

    House OKs bill to repeal driver’s license law
    Nallely Enriquez, 17, and her cousin Jessica Enriquez, 12, of Pojoaque, were among dozens of people who showed up at the Roundhouse on Thursday to oppose a bill to repeal a law that allows people who are in the country illegally to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

    By Deborah Baker / Journal Staff Writer

    PUBLISHED: Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    The state House on Thursday passed a bill to halt New Mexico’s issuance of driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, sending it to the Senate and an uncertain future.

    The House voted 39-29 for the legislation, with all 37 Republicans and two Democrats in favor.Repealing the 2003 law that allows for those licenses has been a top priority for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez since she was elected in 2010 and has been made a campaign issue in legislative races.

    The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said the 2003 law was a mistake. His bill, he said, is an effort to make New Mexico driver’s licenses more secure and to meet the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act.“I am trying to make the state safer,” Pacheco said during a three-hour debate on the House floor.

    Opponents of repeal said the administration is playing politics with the issue, the driver’s license fraud it repeatedly cites has been exaggerated, and the bill could be unconstitutional.

    The House has twice before – in 2011 and 2012 – passed similar legislation, only to have it die in the Senate. This year’s outcome in the House was assured because Republicans control the chamber as a result of the 2014 general election.Under House Bill 32, licenses already held by immigrants who are in the country illegally would remain valid until they expired, but could not be renewed.

    “Once they were expired, my goal for them would be that they would attempt to get the necessary documentation … the proper stuff for a driver’s license,” Pacheco said.

    Foreign nationals who document they are authorized to be in the country could get limited driver’s licenses, which would expire when the authorization ended, under the bill.Pacheco described the legislation as “legally sound.”

    The federal REAL ID Act aimed at standardizing state identification cards after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.The bill’s opponents said New Mexico could come into line with the federal law without having to discontinue licenses for immigrants.

    Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, offered an alternative he said would solve the problem of REAL ID compliance.It would have made available gold-starred, REAL ID-compliant licenses to those who want them and can qualify for them, and regular licenses for others – including those in the country illegally.The proposed substitute, which essentially would have created a two-tiered system of licenses, was rejected 38-30.

    Democrats opposed to House Bill 32 said it would effectively criminalize tens of thousands of New Mexicans who would no longer be able to legally drive or to register and insure their vehicles.Parents of an estimated 90,000 children would no longer be able to take them to school, church, doctors’ appointments or hospitals, opponents said.

    “When we punish an undocumented immigrant for nothing more than wanting to provide for their children … you punish every single one of us,” said Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque.“So stop playing politics with our families. Stop playing politics with our kids’ lives. Stop punishing us,”

    Martinez said.Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said the New Mexico Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police support repeal of the law, because they don’t believe it has made streets safer or lowered the incidence of uninsured drivers.

    But Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, said that since the 2003 law passed, “it’s been easier for law enforcement to conduct investigations, identify the people that are victimizing our community.” Ruiloba, a former Albuquerque police officer currently working with Albuquerque Public Schools, said the ability to identify drivers makes traffic stops less dangerous for police.

    Democratic Reps. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos and Dona Irwin of Deming joined Republicans in voting for the bill. Absent were Democratic Reps. Luciano “Lucky” Varela of Santa Fe and Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque.

    House OKs bill to repeal driver’s license law

    House Approves Repeal of Immigrant Driver License Law (Listen)

    KSFR Local
    FEBRUARY 13, 2015
    By TOM TROWBRIDGEThe New Mexico House of Representatives voted 39-29 Thursday to repeal a state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Albuquerque Republican Representative Paul Pacheco repeatedly spoke to what he said was the need for the repeal. *****021315-Pacheco-1 :09***** Pacheco denied his measure was anti-immigrant, although not everyone was convinced. Bill opponent and Democratic Representative Antonio ‘Moe“ Maestas: *****021315-Maestas-1 :11***** The vote was largely along party lines. An effort by Santa Fe House Minority Leader Brian Egolf to approve a substitute that would have created a two-tiered system for driver’s licenses, as some other states have done was also defeated. The repeal effort has been a priority of Governor Susana Martinez since she was first elected Governor. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority and the chamber’s leadership has vowed to defeat it.

    Listen to the full report, here.

    New Mexico House votes to repeal immigrant driver’s licenses

    BY VIK JOLLY
    Associated Press
    February 12, 2015
    SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would end the state’s practice of giving driver’s licenses to people even if they can’t prove they are in the country legally.
    The GOP-led House passed the bill 39-29 after three hours of debate, with two Democrats siding with the Republicans in the majority. The measure would repeal the 2003 law that made New Mexico one of the first states to offer licenses to immigrants regardless of their legal status.The bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled Senate for a vote, and Democrats have vowed to fight the legislation.The House voted to repeal the law on the same day that the Senate in neighboring Colorado took action in the partisan showdown over granting driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally. Republicans in Colorado, who also made big gains in the 2014 elections, passed a measure Thursday that blocks funds for the state agency that oversees licenses.A growing number of states around the country have been granting driver’s licenses in recent years to people regardless of immigration status. In addition, President Barack Obama’s executive actions to allow immigrants to remain in the country have forced other states to allow people in his deferred-action program to get licenses.Ten states now offer licenses to immigrants who can’t prove they are in the country legally.Proponents of New Mexico’s bill argue that repealing the law would help prevent fraud and bring the state into compliance with federal identification requirements.”This bill is attempting to secure New Mexico’s driver’s licenses and bring us into compliance with the (federal) Real ID Act,” said Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, whose repeal legislation garnered vigorous debate.”In my heart I am trying to do the right thing,” said the retired police officer. “I am not a malicious person. I am trying to solve a problem.”Those who want to keep the law the way it is argue it will hurt otherwise hard working families, and other states that have joined New Mexico in doling out licenses are not running afoul of federal ID laws.Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, a police officer with Albuquerque Public Schools, said the issue before the House was one of safety for the officer and the community. When an officer stops a motorist, it is important that the driver have an ID, which makes the traffic stop less dangerous for the officer, he said.Retired police officer William “Bill” Rehm, R-Albuquerque, who has offered his own version of the repeal legislation, countered that he heard from state police organizations voicing support for the repeal.House Minority Leader Brian Egolf offered a substitute bill that would allow New Mexico to issue two distinct licenses — one that would meet federal requirements and another that is not intended to be accepted by federal agencies. He said federal compliance was the key issue.”We can do it today and stop the annual debate,” Egolf said. His substitute was voted down.Thursday’s debate on the repeal bill was witnessed by about 250 children and parents, many of them wearing yellow shirts with lettering on the back that read, “Keep our parents licensed.”The bill would allow those who have proof that they qualified for Obama’s deferred action program to get a license, but the license would expire when their status expires.Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, asked lawmakers to consider how the repeal will impact “our kids, both undocumented and citizen kids alike.””What are we going to do with the 90,000 children here who have at least one parent who is undocumented?” he said, adding that the proposal before the House “has tremendous unintended consequences for the people of New Mexico.”
    Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/02/12/3488146/new-mexico-house-repeals-drivers.html#storylink=cpy

    Unauthorized Immigrants’ Access to Driver’s Licenses Is at Risk

    By JACK HEALY and JULIE TURKEWITZ
    FEB. 11, 2015
    New York Times
    DENVER — His driver’s license is an economic lifeline, said Felipe Castro, an unauthorized immigrant from Mexico who commutes 40 miles each morning to his construction job in Northern Colorado. Or it was, until it expired last week.He needed to renew it under a state program that was created almost two years ago — one of several across the country granting licenses to noncitizens. But with Republicans now in control of the Senate, the legislature’s joint budget committee has largely stripped the program of the money it needs to operate, angering many among Colorado’s fast-growing Latino population and upending life for thousands of unauthorized immigrants like Mr. Castro, who has lived in the United States for more than a decade. The waiting period for licenses, never short, now sprawls until March 2016.“I cannot renew it,” Mr. Castro, 51, said. “We suffer. When we have one crash, we are ready to lose everything. We go to jail. We suffer the deportation.”Since the Colorado program began in August 2014, the state has issued 7,934 driver’s licenses and 1,655 state identification cards, according to the Division of Motor Vehicles. In states where licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally have been approved — there are 10 in all, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — demand has been high: California, which started its program at the beginning of 2015, said that more than 366,000 applicants had visited motor vehicles offices as of Feb. 3. Now, there is pushback, and not only in Colorado. In New Mexico, one of the first states to issue licenses to illegal immigrants, conservative lawmakers — with the backing of Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and the first Latina to hold the post — have tried repeatedly to repeal the law enacted in 2003. The latest repeal attempt could go to a floor vote this week in the House of Representatives, which is Republican-controlled for the first time in 60 years; however, the bill will face a fight in the state’s Democrat-controlled Senate. And here in Colorado, Democrats plan to fight to restore the funding that the Republicans have erased.The state-by-state battles over licenses have unfolded in the absence of broad federal legislation over how to handle the millions of people living in the country illegally. Supporters of noncitizen licenses, who include law enforcement officials, say that safety is the fundamental issue, because the licensing process makes drivers better educated about the rules of the road, more likely to have insurance and less likely to flee an accident. Opponents, who include some Democrats, say the program amounts to amnesty.In Arizona, after legislators tried to deny licenses to certain immigrants, a federal judge ruled last month that the state must issue licenses to so-called Dreamers, people who were brought to the United States illegally as children and were spared from deportation by President Obama in 2012.“I don’t feel there should be any enabling for those people at all,” said Stan Weekes, a former director of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform. “There’s a way you go about immigrating, and then there’s the other way. I’m sorry, I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who are unwilling to go by the rules.”While the Colorado Republicans do not have the votes to repeal the license program, they were able to gut its funding in a joint budget committee vote last month. They rejected a request from the D.M.V. to use about $166,000 in fees it collected from applicants to continue paying for the five offices and several staff members who run the program for thousands of immigrant applicants. The measure will stand unless lawmakers amend the budget, which could happen: On Thursday, Jessie Ulibarri, a Democratic senator, plans to introduce a measure that would restore funding to the program.State Senator Kevin Grantham, a Republican member of the budget committee who voted against releasing additional funds for the license program, said he worried about the message the program sent. “We are endorsing them being here illegally by giving them a state-sanctioned license, which is a privilege,” he said. “That is not what our resources should be used for.”Tanya Broder, a senior lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center, which favors licenses for noncitizens, said it was not surprising to see resistance even in states where licenses have been issued. “There will be many steps forward, and a step or two back,” she said.What is surprising is that it happened in Colorado, a swing state where Latinos make up about 14 percent of eligible voters and are starting to be elected in larger numbers to the State Legislature.There are about 180,000 unauthorized immigrants in Colorado, according to an estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center based on 2012 data. And immigrant-rights advocates say they have been deluged with calls since the money for licenses was cut.“Everyone has been asking, ‘What’s going to happen to us?’ ” said Estrella Ruiz, who has been helping many immigrants around Grand Junction, Colo., schedule their Division of Motor Vehicles appointments and get their documents in order. “The political game that they’re playing, it’s upsetting. Why take away programs that are helping the community?”Four of the five D.M.V. offices handling noncitizen appointments for identification cards and driver’s licenses were cut back, leaving one in Denver. It can handle about 30 people a day; immigrant rights groups say that thousands are waiting for licenses.“There’s a huge backlog, and unless the funding is restored, there’s no forward motion,” Mr. Ulibarri said.In New Mexico, opponents of the driver’s license law have said that it has made the state a hub for criminals who help out-of-state immigrants obtain bogus licenses by providing them with false documents. The state has repeatedly convicted people in such schemes; in one case involving a former public notary, the scam brought in an estimated $30,000 a month.“Providing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants has turned New Mexico into a magnet for criminal activity, leading to elaborate fraud rings and human trafficking,” Representative Paul Pacheco, who introduced the current bill to repeal licenses, said in a statement. “It is a dangerous practice that needs to be repealed once and for all.”Even before the funding cuts in Colorado, immigrant-rights groups complained about disorganization and long waits for licenses, and said the five offices could not keep up with the demand.Jeanette Vizguerra said her appointment had been pushed back to November from April. Ms. Vizguerra, who came illegally to Colorado from Mexico City in 1997 and has been fighting for years to avoid deportation, has a learner’s permit but said she needed a license to get to work cleaning houses and to bring her three American-born children to school.“It’s ridiculous and unjustifiable,” she said of the licensing change in Colorado. “It’s a way to punish the community. There’s no other way to say it.”Rick Rojas contributed reporting from Phoenix.A version of this article appears in print on February 12, 2015, on page A17 of the New York edition.

    Bill Banning Driver’s Licenses For The Undocumented Advances In New Mexico

    Fronteras desk, NPR
    February 9, 2015

    A bill that would prohibit driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants is advancing in the New Mexico state legislature.

    On Saturday the House Judiciary Committee voted to send the bill to the House floor, where a newly elected Republican majority promises to pass it. The bill faces a tougher future in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

    It’s the latest attempt by lawmakers to repeal a 2003 law allowing unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Gov. Susana Martinez campaigned in favor of repeal during her first run for governor in 2010.

    Since then 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing people in the country illegally to obtain some form of driver’s license.

    State and federal courts in New Mexico have tried multiple cases involving fraud and immigrant driver’s licenses in the past four years.

    To listen to the audio clip, click here.

    Audio Clip

    Bill Prohibiting Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Advances In New Mexico 

    00:00
    Advocate
    Photo by Mónica Ortiz Uribe
    Advocate Rosa Lopez holds up mock driver’s license plate. She uses it during rallies in support of a New Mexico law that allows undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license.

    Immigrant license law repeal advances to full House

      February 8, 2015

      By Milan Simonich
      The New Mexican 

      Another volatile hearing Saturday ended with another predictable result, as a Republican bill to repeal the 2003 driver’s license law for immigrants advanced on a party-line vote.

      The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 to send the bill to the full House of Representatives. Every Democrat on the committee opposed the measure.

      The sponsor, Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said repealing the law is necessary for New Mexico to comply with the federal Real ID Act.

      But Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, challenged that claim. Alcon said the state could meet the federal law’s requirements without scrapping the licensing law.

      An attorney for the state Motor Vehicle Division said Alcon essentially is correct. She said a state law could be tweaked to allow for identification cards that would comply with Real ID specifications.

      Republicans for the most part let Democrats and some 100 supporters of the licensing law do the talking during the four-hour hearing.

      Joan Friedland, an Albuquerque lawyer who specializes in immigration law, told the committee that the bill is a “jumble” of confused ideas that would prohibit even immigrants with a lawful presence in New Mexico from getting a driver’s license.

      Democratic Rep. Kenny Martinez, an attorney from Grants, said the bill contains provisions that are unconstitutional. He said it would be overturned in court, if the bill first made it through the New Mexico Senate.

      One Republican who spoke at length was Rep. Andy Nuñez, who said New Mexico licenses are so devalued that they are not being recognized in Arizona and Texas. Nuñez, of Hatch, even said the state’s licenses raise questions about whether someone “belongs” in New Mexico.

      He agreed to elaborate on his claim after the hearing, but a handler pulled him out of an interview, saying Nuñez had a constituent waiting in his office.

      As for Pacheco, he called himself a problem solver and said he was and is willing to work for a compromise bill that could allow driving privilege cards for people with proof of immigration status. These cards could not be used as identification to board an airplane or enter a secure federal building.

      Pacheco said Rep. Martinez, former speaker of the House, had not given him much of a chance when he previously broached the idea of a compromise.

      Pacheco’s repeal bill probably will sail through the 70-member House of Representatives by a wide margin. A handful of House Democrats are likely to support the measure after the floor debate concludes.

      But the bill will face substantial opposition in the Senate, which Democrats control, 25-17. Sen. Michael Sanchez, the majority floor leader from Belen, said the existing licensing law helps the economy and American-born children, so it should stay on the books.

      Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

      Reader View: Leave driver’s license law — it makes sense

      Posted: Saturday, February 7, 2015 7:00 pm

      By Bill Richardson 

      As governor 11 years ago, I advocated for and signed the bill — with bipartisan support — to allow undocumented immigrants the right to drive in our state. Looking back, I take a great deal of pride in that action.

      I’m proud that New Mexico was among the first states in the country to take this forward-thinking initiative. Today, only 10 states have done the same. More will be jumping on our bandwagon now that President Barack Obama’s executive action has slowed immigrant deportations to a trickle.

      New Mexico is a rich, multicultural state. Lawmakers have wisely protected that multicultural legacy. It’s hard to understand Gov. Susana Martinez’s obsessive anti-immigrant positions, especially when the evidence underscores the positives that have resulted from the law.
      First, everyone should know that being able to obtain a driver’s license is not a free ride by any means. Immigrants must study and learn the laws of the road; they have to buy auto insurance; they have to keep their vehicles in good repair; and they must be on their best behavior when behind the wheel.
      Now consider a few positive real-life examples: David, Abel, Socorro, Noel and Maria Elena are undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico. They have other things in common: They are parents and they work. And they have started businesses and have created jobs here. And, yes, they have earned the right to drive legally in New Mexico.
      The other important thing they have in common is this: They pay more income taxes here than outside corporations that are gifted billions in incentives, relief and support from our state.
      To deny those contributing immigrants licenses is like “cutting off our nose to spite our face.” It makes no sense.
      It does, however, make sense to help integrate and acknowledge people who live in society’s shadows, yet are also helping us all each day. Every nonpartisan study shows that undocumented give more than they take from us — both socially and economically.
      Another underlying and important reason this initiative makes sense is public safety. A recent California Department of Motor Vehicles study validates what we knew inherently when the law was passed. That study now shows that immigrants without driver’s licenses are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly accident. Why would we repeal or weaken a law that makes New Mexicans safer?
      I bring this up as we watch Martinez’s sixth obsessive attempt to try to repeal the law that benefits everyone. This would be a silly issue if it weren’t so dangerous for us all. This crazy push on her part is a needless distraction to her empty agenda this session. She should concentrate on jobs, education, health care and environmental protection instead.
      The cry about fraud in the system is a red herring. Virtually every department in government has a fraud division that investigates abuses. And, despite the sensational media reports of a few isolated incidents, driver’s license fraud actually happens less frequently than fraud in other departments.
      One might also keep in mind that repealing this law will not end the issue. Martinez has already lost one court case — and taxpayer money — by trying to circumvent the law. Other states have also lost legal challenges when they have tried to deny the undocumented licenses. If lawmakers do repeal the law, you can be sure that it will end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars in more lawsuits. In one of the poorest states in the union, we do not need to have additional taxpayer money wasted this way.
      The New Mexico Legislature should deep-six this draconian bill once and for all. I would hope wiser minds will prevail and everyone will see the light — and the folly of repealing a law that makes New Mexico safer and economically more vibrant.
      Lawmakers should once again stand up and stop Martinez’s foolish, tea party-inspired move that only benefits the anti-immigrant sector in our rich, multicultural state.
      Bill Richardson is a former two-term governor of New Mexico.

      Driver’s licenses repeal heads to House floor

      New Mexico Political Report
      February 7, 2015 7:43 pm

      Photo from a 2015 rally opposing the repeal of the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Photo by Margaret Wright.

      Photo from a 2015 rally opposing the repeal of the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Photo by Margaret Wright.

      Sharp partisan lines were drawn yet again during further passage of a bill proposing to do away with the state law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

      The House Judiciary Committee’s Republican majority voted 7 to 6 in favor of sending HB 32 on for a House floor vote following five hours of debate that frequently circled back to the controversial federal REAL ID Act.

      measure sponsored by Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, also proposes to not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. It was held over until the next committee meeting.

      Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, helped craft the House Judiciary Committee’s early-morning substitution for HB 32. The changes were so sweeping, they negated the bill’s original title. The original bill revolved around a plan to create two new kinds of driver’s licenses—one for New Mexico residents who are U.S. citizens and another for foreign nationals who can prove they have legal permission to be in the U.S.

      The substitute proposal calls for one driver’s license for both citizens and foreign nationals. The latter would be allowed to hold New Mexico driver’s licenses until their federal permission to be in the United States comes to an end.

      Undocumented immigrants who currently hold New Mexico driver’s licenses would simply see them expire, said Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla, who also testified in support of Pacheco’s bill.

      House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, initiated a tense exchange with Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, who helped Pacheco draft his measure.

      Nuñez, who wasn’t using a microphone, could barely be heard in the large committee room, but Egolf disputed Nuñez’s contentions: “He’s saying that New Mexico driver’s licenses are being questioned or denied in Arizona or Texas because the possessors don’t look like New Mexicans.”

      Egolf went on to ask what harm the legislation seeks to address. Pacheco deferred to Padilla, who said New Mexico runs the risk of falling out of compliance with federal REAL ID Act requirements, which would “put an additional burden on New Mexicans who want to fly or use federal facilities.”

      While Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said he worried the bill could be considered unconstitutional if challenged in court, Egolf said his concerns were about wording, including potential “loopholes that could subvert the stated aims of the sponsor.”

      He also objected to new language Padilla and Pacheco said would help account for federal executive orders extending temporary relief from deportation for many undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

      “All the things being added in here are pointless,” he said, adding that the Tax and Revenue secretary would still retain final authority to either allow or deny a license to any individual. “It’s a fool’s errand to try to legislate around executive action.”

      Furthermore, said Egolf, “I believe the department already possesses the authority it needs to address fraud. … I don’t see that this does anything to address that.”

      Pacheco said he remains open to working toward a bipartisan solution to create two separate tiers of driver’s licenses, one of them for foreign nationals, but Democratic lawmakers sounded pessimistic.

      Republicans campaigned on the premise that they’d repeal the current driver’s license law, said Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque. “The beauty of the governor’s propaganda arm is that now if this bill doesn’t become law, they can portray this as, ‘We tried to pass a two-tiered law and those darn obstructionists won’t allow it.’”

      Several of the same individuals who testified in support of the measures during the previous hearing were back today in favor of the new HB 32, including Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Terri Cole and State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.

      Greg Fouratt, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, said current state law should be overturned because “New Mexico driver’s licenses have become a commodity for criminal rings across the country.”

      Like the bill’s last committee hearing, opponents of the measure far outnumbered supporters. Several of the people testifying identified themselves as immigrants, saying they need driver’s licenses to transport their children to and from school and medical appointments.

      Committee OKs end to licenses for immigrants

      By PUBLISHED: Saturday, February 7, 2015

      SANTA FE – A House committee on Saturday voted to end the issuance of driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, sending the bill to the full House, which is expected to approve it.

      The legislation cleared the House Judiciary Committee 7-6 – with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed – after a nearly five-hour hearing.

      GOP Gov. Susana Martinez has pushed relentlessly since her election in 2010 to repeal the law, but has not managed to get it all the way through the Legislature.

      House Republicans this year outnumber Democrats 37-33 and the GOP says all its members are on board for repeal.

      It’s the Senate, however, that historically has tripped up the legislation.

      House Bill 32 would allow foreign nationals who document they are authorized to be in the country to get regular driver’s licenses that would expire once that authorization ended, according to the bill’s sponsors.

      Licenses already held by those who are in the country illegally would remain valid until they expired, but not be renewed.

      The Martinez administration contends the 2003 law has made the state a magnet for fraud and its repeal is a matter of public safety.

      “New Mexico driver’s licenses have become a commodity for criminal organizations in this country,” said Greg Fouratt,, a former U.S. attorney who now heads the state Department of Public Safety.

      He was among more than 40 people – most of them opposed to repeal – who testified to the panel.

      Opponents disputed that public safety concerns are propelling the issue. They said it’s safer to have drivers identified and insured, and that the repeal agenda is politically driven – as evidenced by its repeated use in campaigns against Democratic candidates.

      Former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, a supporter of the current law since it was passed, called repeal “a bulletproof, gee-whiz, poll-tested, discriminatory wedge issue.”

      Opponents said the bill’s passage would harm families that must drive to work, school, doctors’ appointments and elsewhere.

      The legislation endorsed Saturday was offered by Republican Reps. Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque and Andy Nuñez of Hatch, who abandoned their previous “two-tier” proposal for two different types of licenses.

      The new proposal would have foreign nationals getting the same licenses as others, except their duration would be limited, Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla told the committee.

      She said becoming compliant with the federal REAL ID Act – aimed at standardizing state identification cards after the 9/11 terrorist attacks – is a major reason for the bill.

      “Our driver’s license is going to fall out of compliance with the REAL ID Act and it’s going to put an additional burden on New Mexicans,” Padilla said.

      She cited as an example potential problems for New Mexicans who work at federal facilities that require REAL ID-compliant identification.

      Enforcement of the act has repeatedly been delayed at the federal level. New Mexico currently has an extension until October of this year, she said.

      Opponents argued that extensions beyond that are likely, the compliance dilemma is overstated and there are other ways to comply – such as issuing identification cards separate from licenses.

      Democrats on the committee said the latest proposal is unconstitutional and riddled with loopholes.

      While the legislation makes eligible for licenses those with deferred deportation action status by the federal government, other groups of immigrants who also have lawful status are not included, they said.

      The legislation “singles out one class of people and takes away from them what everybody else gets,” objected Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants.

      The supporters of repeal point to polls that show the majority of New Mexicans want to eliminate the law. A Journal Poll last year showed 75 percent of New Mexicans opposed the 2003 law.

      Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said that’s because politicians over the past few years have spent millions of dollars on advertising telling New Mexicans “this should bug you.”

      New Mexico Immigrants Protest: Undocumented Demand Driver’s Licenses, Call Latina Governor ‘Racist’

      By  | Feb 03 2015
      Latin Times

      Santa Fe — New Mexico’s capital building is as unique as it’s pro-immigrant policies. Called the “Roundhouse,” the circular structure is four stories high. It sports a flat skylight instead of a dome. Its four entrances welcome the Anglos, Mexicans, American Indians, and Spanish people that forged the state’s history. Diversity has been the cornerstone of the state’s policies, and it’s made it one of the most welcoming places for undocumented immigrants. Ninety percent of the state’s undocumented are of Mexican descent. Many of them live in mixed families that include citizens and authorized immigrants.

      Unlike undocumented immigrants in most other states, New Mexico residents can legally drive. In 2003, New Mexico was the first state in the nation to allow undocumented immigrants to secure driver’s licenses. The law was credited for reducing the rates of uninsured motorists from 33% to around 9%. (Why is the right to drive so important for immigrants and their neighbors? When you can’t have a driver’s license, you can’t have insurance. When you can’t have insurance, it’s harder to compensate fellow motorists if you’re at fault in a wreck). New Mexico also grants Spanish special status, and is home to a number of immigrant-friendly municipalities. In Santa Fe, the capital city, employers are not allowed to ask for Social Security Numbers to determine employment eligibility, and law enforcement are not allowed to expend resources to enforce civil immigration law.

      Yet for undocumented immigrants in New Mexico, there’s trouble. On Monday, hundreds of immigrants and their supporters rallied outside of the Roundhouse. They protested Governor Susana Martinez’s support for a bill that would repeal the 2003 driver’s license law. Martinez is America’s first Latina Governor and a descendent of Mexican immigrants. She’s also a Republican, and has long opposed providing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

      Latino activists decried what they they see as a betrayal. They chanted slogans in a mix of Spanish and English.

      “Susana, que pasa, you turned your back on su propia raza.” (“Susana, what happened? You turned your back on your own people”).

      Though a repeal has been proposed every year that she’s been in office, this year is different for New Mexico. Republicans have the majority in the state house for the first time in years. Other states have changed since 2003, pursuing both pro and anti-immigrant legislation.

      Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, also tried to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses, including those granted deferred action by the Obama administration. Yet Brewer was overruled by a district judge. New Mexico’s activists, referencing Arizona’s anti-immigrant stance, chided Susana in another chant.

      Susana, reacciona, no estás en Arizona.” (“Susana, react, you’re not in Arizona.”)

      Nine states have passed pro-immigrant driving laws since 2003. This January, California unveiled a two-tier system that allows undocumented immigrants to drive. In Colorado, undocumented immigrants are technically allowed to get driver’s licenses. However, Republicans in the state house have defunded the DMV, making it next to impossible for the undocumented to actually get a new ID or renew an existing one.

      Back at the Roundhouse in New Mexico, protesters listened to speeches and held signs. Most of the signs were written from the perspective of immigrant children, and many were held in young hands. “Our parents need to drive us,” read one sign, held by a teenage girl in a red sweater. “Susana: I don’t want you to take my parents licences. STOP your racism,” read another.

      Protest Signs At Rally Against MartinezProtesters held signs written from the perspective of children. “My parents are honest,” “My parents are not criminals,” “My Parents are not terrorists,” and others. One claims that Susana Martinez’s policies are racist. Cedar Attanasio / Latin Times

       

      Immigrant Allies Protest Driver’s License Law Repeal

      By KATE POWELL

      KSFR Local

      2/2/2015

      On Monday afternoon, over a thousand protestors joined Somos Un Pueblo Unido to rally against the repeal of a state law allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. KSFR’s Tom Trowbridge broadcasted live from the Roundhouse during today’s edition of At Noon, bringing us an interview with one of the original sponsors of the 2003 law allowing the licenses. Listen Here

      Dia del inmigrante

      Published: 2/02/2015

      Telemundo Nuevo Mexico

      El lunes nos encontrámos aquí en Santa Fe, donde la comunidad inmigrante en la famosa marcha inmigrante hace presente para reclamar sus derechos ante la posibilidad de perder las licencias de manejo.

      El día de hoy las comunidades hispanas e inmigrantes. Se dieron cita en Santa Fe, para participar en la marcha de acción del inmigrante. En contra de la famosa propuesta Pacheco o conocida como HB-32.
      Como nos comento una protestante, Karina Tovar:”Lo que la gobernadora quiere hacer es algo injusto, es muy injusto para nosotros que nada más querémos la licencia para trabajar, para el uso diario nada más”
      Como nos comento el diputado Javier Martinez:”El mensaje directo a la comunidad es que no nos vamos a dar por vencidos, la bancada demócrata está unida a favor de la comunidad inmigrante y a favor de las licencias de conducir.”
      Esta marcha reunió a gentes de la mayor parte de los municipios del estado
      La cual se llevo acabo a las once de la mañana. Dando inicio desde el Railroad art yard de Santa fe, y llegando hasta el área del Capitolio de nuestro Estado.
      En  donde las personas participantes se congregaron a un costado de dicho recinto desde, donde al reunirse, hicieron escuchar sus reclamos a los diputados republicanos, Paul Pacheco,Bill Rehm y la gobernadora Susana Martínez.
      Como nos comento la protestante, Gloria Portillo:”La Gobernadora en su campaña dice que a ella le preocupa mucho el bienestar de los niños Nuevomexicanos y queremos que sepa que entre esas cosas, para conservar el bienestar de los niños Nuevomexicanos hace falta las licencias a los padres”
      Como nos comento una madre preocupada por sus hijos:”Antes Nuevo México era un ejemplo a seguir para otros Estados y ahora lo quieren quitar el beneficio de las licencias entonces están retrocediendo ¿no?”
      Cabe mencionar que la multitud contó con apoyo de líderes de nuestra comunidad como la diputada demócrata, Staplenton y Javier Martinez.
      Para así hacer notar que la comunidad inmigrante e hispana de ser aprobada dicha propuesta perdería algunos privilegios que brindan las licencias de conducir.

      Al rededor de mil doscientas personas que se reunieron aquí en Santa Fe para pedir y demandar su derecho a las licencias de manejo.

      Para ver el video, haga click aqui y aqui.

       

      Familias y Lideres se unen en Día de acción del inmigrante

      KLUZ News

      02/02/2015

      Albuquerque, (Entravision).-Miles de personas de 15 condados de Nuevo México llegan al capitolio para impedir que las licencias de conducir sean revocadas para los inmigrantes indocumentados.

      Para ver el video, haga click aqui.

      Immigrant advocates rally against driver’s license repeal

      NM Political Report
      February 2, 2015
      Check out the photo report here.

       

      Immigrant advocates rally amid New Mexico license repeal

      By Russell Contreras

      Associated Press

      POSTED: 02/02/2015

                             

      Immigrant advocates rally Monday at the state Capitol in Santa Fe to protest a proposal aimed at repealing a New Mexico law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. (AP Photo — Russell Contreras)

      SANTA FE >> Days after a New Mexico House panel voted to repeal an immigrant driver’s license law, more than a thousand advocates descended on the Capitol on Monday to rally and lobby key lawmakers.

      The “Immigrant Day of Action March and Protest” outside the Statehouse drew immigrants and their allies from as far as Clovis who came to call on legislators to uphold law that they say other states are looking to replicate.

      A proposal to repeal a New Mexico law that allows immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses cleared its first hurdle last week. After a more than four-hour hearing, the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee voted 5-4 along party lines to move along the GOP-led proposal to another committee.

      The Republican-controlled House is expected to pass the measure but its fate remains unclear in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

      Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican who ran for re-election on repealing the law, said she would sign the measure if it came to her desk.

      Eli Cuna, 27, of Albuquerque, said the law has helped her and her parents integrate into New Mexico society and believes it continues to assists others. “I got a license when I was undocumented and was able to enroll at Santa FeCommunity College,” said Cuna, who is working on becoming a U.S. citizen. “Now I’m a graduate student.”

      Republicans say the repeal effort is based on public safety concerns and have cited cases of fraud as reasons for the change. “This has to do with the safety of our state,” said Rep. Bill R. Rehm, R-Albuquerque. “It’s not about race.”

      Democrats and advocates say, however, the repeal is based on anti-immigrant sentiment.

      Marcela Diaz, executive director of the Santa Fe-based advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said opponents are using fear and false links to terrorism to get residents behind repeal. “There is nothing wrong with the law,” Diaz said. “It’s working for many families.”

      Advocates vowed to crowd more committee hearings on the repeal proposal.

      Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter: http://twitter.com/russcontreras

      Immigrant advocates rally amid New Mexico license repeal

      Updated: 02/02/2015 6:47 PM |

      By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

      To watch the video news report, please click here.

      Dozens Rally As Drivers License Bill Moves Through Legislature

      February 2, 2015 by Justin Horwath

      SF Reporter

      Dozens rallied Monday against and in support of legislation that would reverse a state-policy of issuing undocumented immigrants drivers licenses in New Mexico.

      Somos Un Pueblo Unido, an immigrants rights group, held a rally Monday in which participants marched from Santa Fe’s Railyard down Paseo de Peralta, with members holding signs that read, “Keep my parents licensed,” “My parents work honestly” and “Do not license racism.” Supporters of the legislation held a separate rally in front of the Roundhouse. “Keep immigrant parents licensed,” reads one shirt of a person attending the rally:

      Read the full article here.

       

       

      Ringside Seat: Lawmaker fights to give other kids of immigrants opportunity

      MILAN SIMONICHRingside Seat

      Posted: Sunday, February 1, 2015 5:30 pm | Updated: 5:28 pm, Mon Feb 2, 2015.

      Born in an El Paso barrio, just a few feet across the border from Mexico, New Mexico state Rep. Javier Martinez knows that boots are necessary if people are to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

      Martinez’s father was a Mexican-born construction laborer. His mother was born in the United States, but she lived in Mexico for the most part until she was in her 30s. She gave birth to Javier in the summer of 1981 at a Methodist maternity clinic.

      “We’re Catholic, but it was the cheapest place,” Javier Martinez said one recent morning before beginning his committee hearings in the House of Representatives.

      Rep. Martinez is a Democrat representing downtown Albuquerque and its near-North Valley. He spent the first seven years of his life in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. When his parents moved the family to Albuquerque in 1989, his father had a green card and a burning desire to give his children more opportunities.

      They were not the family’s first immigrants to move to New Mexico. Rep. Martinez’s grandfather had been a miner in Silver City.

      “That was a time when you would literally get in line to get your papers,” Rep. Martinez said. “It was really a pretty fair system.”

      Rep. Martinez arrived in Albuquerque not speaking any English. Bright and determined, he flourished in the public schools. By fifth grade, he no longer needed to study English as a second language. His teachers knew he could soar.

      After graduating from Highland High School, he was the recipient of one of the state’s innovative education programs. A state lottery scholarship helped him pay the bills at The University of New Mexico. He received his undergraduate degree, then went on to law school at UNM, passing the bar on his first try three years ago.

      “I had a lot of people looking out for me,” Rep. Martinez said.

      Civil rights became his specialty in law. He also ventured to the state Capitol, where he took on an advocacy role for causes he believes in. One was supporting the 2003 law that allows New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a state driver’s license.

      Rep. Martinez says the law helps families that otherwise could splinter. He also says it’s good for business and helpful to law enforcement. Farmhands and laborers critical to the economy can drive to work lawfully. Police have them listed in their database because they have licenses, making it easier to hold drivers accountable if a crash occurs.

      Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, no relation to the representative, has been trying since 2011 to persuade legislators to repeal the driver’s license law. She calls it dangerous and says it weakens border and national security.

      Rep. Martinez’s view from the trenches tells him otherwise. He says kids like him, born in the United States to a least one parent from a foreign country, are able to get to school because their parents are able to drive.

      If education and the well-being of children really are important focuses of state government, he says, there is no debating that the law is helpful.

      Last year, after longtime state Rep. Rick Miera decided not to run for re-election, Javier Martinez entered politics. He brought his work ethic to the campaign to replace Miera, winning the decisive primary election with 78 percent of the vote.

      Assigned to the Ways and Means Committee, he spends his free time reading a thick volume of the state tax code. The book would be a cure for insomnia to most. But to Rep. Martinez, it is a universe that he has to master.

      He is married and the father of a 2-year-old and a 1-month-old. Education, he says, is “the great equalizer” for every child in a low-income or middle-class home, and that will guide him in the Legislature.

      Rep. Martinez’s father, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, no longer could find construction work after the economic crash in 2008. He works as a janitor. He received a boost when Albuquerque voters raised the minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.75, Rep. Martinez said. His mother works in the laundry of a nursing home, cleaning the linen.

      They must be proud of their son, who arrived as a Spanish speaker, then blazed his path in law and politics.

      “I’m a lot more proud of them,” Rep. Martinez says.

      Ringside Seat is a column about New Mexico’s people, politics and news. Look for it in Monday’s print edition. Follow the Ringside Seat blog at www.santafenewmexican.com. Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com.

       

      2 bills aimed at repealing immigrant license law clear House panel

      By Milan Simonich
      The New Mexican

      Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2015 8:00 pm | Updated: 12:29 am, Fri Jan 30, 2015.

      Republicans on the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee flexed their newfound muscle Thursday night, advancing two bills to repeal the law allowing state residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a New Mexico driver’s license.Both cleared the committee on 5-4 party-line votes. Democrats, the minority party in the House of Representatives for the first time since 1954, previously had been able to stop the repeal bill in committees they dominated.

      Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, is sponsoring one of the bills that moves forward. A similar repeal bill by another Albuquerque Republican, Rep. Bill Rehm, also received the committee’s endorsement after nearly seven hours of debate on both measures.
      Rehm, a retired sheriff’s captain, said people who break immigration law disrespect others who try to legally enter the United States. Citing an Albuquerque Journal poll, Rehm said some 70 percent of New Mexico residents want the licensing provision repealed.
      Pacheco, facing a packed room with more supporters of the licensing law than people who want it repealed, said striking the law would position New Mexico to comply with the federal Real ID Act.
      Pacheco falsely told the committee that New Mexico driver’s licenses can simply be exchanged for licenses from other states, weakening national security.
      Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, countered that states typically require proof of identity and residency before they issue a driver’s license. A fact check of motor vehicle departments in other states shows that Ruiloba is correct. They require a birth certificate or Social Security card before issuing a driver’s license to any newcomer.
      Proponents of the license repeal included several of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s Cabinet secretaries, the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. They said public safety would improve if the law were repealed.
      Clergy members, the Santa Fe Police Department and Santa Fe school board member Susan Duncan were among those who testified in favor of keeping the law.
      Duncan said some 3,000 students in Santa Fe are English-language learners who come from homes where parents may not have proof of immigration status. But most of these young people are U.S. citizens who would be hurt if their parents couldn’t take them to school, she said.
      Mireya Estrada, a junior at Monte del Sol Charter School, told the committee she makes straight A’s and has aspirations of going to college. Estrada said the licensing law enables her parents to lawfully drive her to school every day.
      Allen Sánchez, a spokesman at the Capitol for the state’s three Catholic bishops, said the repeal bill was hypocritical because the state likes having farmworkers and domestics from foreign lands to help fuel New Mexico’s economy.
      “We take the labor from this population, and we benefit from that,” he said.
      The repeal bills have a good chance of passing the full House of Representatives. The state Senate, though, is controlled by Democrats, many of whom say they favor the existing licensing law.

      Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

      New Mexico immigrant license repeal effort passes 1st hurdle

      By Russell ContrerasAssociated Press

      POSTED:   01/30/2015
      A proposal to repeal a New Mexico law that allows immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses has cleared its first hurdle Thursday despite objections from immigrant groups and a comparison to the Holocaust. After a more than four-hour hearing, the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee voted 5-4 along party lines to move along the GOP-led proposal aimed at revamping the state driver’s licenses laws.But before the vote, some Democratic lawmakers compared the repeal measure to the rounding-up of Jews by Nazi Germany and the segregation of black children under Jim Crow.Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, said any repeal would create more divisions in New Mexico and force hard-working immigrants in the state into second-class citizenship. “It reminds me of stories we heard about the Holocaust,” she said, drawing gasps in the crowded room. Another Albuquerque Democrat, Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, angrily criticized the proposal and said it was an attack on civil rights in the state. “It is taking us back when the black little kids had to sit behind the white kids,” she said.Committee chair, Rep. William “Bill” R. Rehm, R-Albuquerque, called reference to the Holocaust “over the top” and said the bill was about public safety.

      “I’m part Hispanic. This is not about race,” Rehm, a retired police officer, said. “Over 70 percent of the people of New Mexico say we need to end issuing licenses to illegals.”

      The proposal sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque calls for creating a “two-tier” driver’s license system for residents and some immigrants brought over as children without legal documents.

      But Marcela Diaz, executive director of the Santa Fe-based advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said that would only create “scarlet-letter” licenses for immigrants.

      Immigrant advocates packed the hearing Thursday to tell lawmakers how the bill has helped their families and also said the repeal effort was based on bigotry.

      Pacheco said that criticism was unfair. “I’m not the devil incarnated,” he said. “But this is a nation of law and we have laws for a reason.”

      Pacheco said he also came from a family of immigrants.

      The proposal now moves onto the House Judiciary Committee before going before the full House, now under Republican control for the first time in 60 years.

      Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has tried repeatedly to have the driver’s license law repealed, but those efforts have generated staunch opposition from Democrats.

      ———

      Follow Russell Contreras at http://twitter.com/russcontreras.

       

       

      Senate Dems: Governor ‘dead wrong’ on education, economy

      Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 | Updated: 8:51 pm, Tue Jan 20, 2015.

      By Patrick Malone
      The New Mexican | 

      Democratic leaders of the New Mexico Senate scoffed at Gov. Susana Martinez’s State of the State speech on Tuesday, calling it loaded with “gimmicks” and out of touch with the problems facing the state.

      They vowed to block key policy objectives the governor identified in her speech, including right-to-work legislation, a bill that would hold back students in third grade if they’re not reading well and a repeal of the law that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

      “Those are all gimmicks,” said Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, adding another Martinez proposal to the list: $100 debit cards for teachers to buy classroom supplies. “Come on, that might get you through the first month of school,” he said. “That’s a gimmick.”

      Martinez often used the word courage in her address, which focused on abandoning the status quo to improve education and economics in New Mexico. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, seized the theme of Martinez’s speech and used it to criticize her policies.

      “It really takes courage to admit when you’re wrong, and I’ve got to tell you, the governor needs to admit that she’s wrong on education and on right-to-work,” Sanchez said during a news conference. “She’s dead wrong.”

      With Republicans in control of the House for the first time in 60 years, the Senate, where Democrats hold a 25-17 advantage, stands as the lone obstacle to many of Martinez’s plans. Sanchez made it clear his caucus intends to block some of the governor’s top priorities and push a few of its own, even if they run counter to the political current at the Roundhouse.

      Although some more centrist Democrats in the Senate could make it a close vote on right-to-work legislation, Sanchez said he is confident the proposal — which would prevent unions from requiring workers to pay dues — will be defeated.

      Martinez regards right-to-work legislation as a way of making the state more appealing to businesses looking to locate here. Sanchez sees the proposal as something that would suppress wages and employer-sponsored health care in a state that’s already among the poorest in the nation.

      Sanchez said Democrats in the Senate also will be unyielding on Martinez’s efforts to repeal the law that allows immigrants in the country without legal status to get driver’s licenses. “It would be my preference that there is no compromise on that issue,” Sanchez said.

      Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said the governor’s speech, which was weighted with references to children, ignored the impacts that a repeal of the immigrant license law would have on some 90,000 children in the state who are lawful U.S. citizens and whose parents are now eligible to drive legally.

      “Those are kids that can no longer get driven to school, can’t get driven to the emergency room, can’t get driven to their doctors’ appointments,” Candelaria said. “So I think, as a party, we care about every single New Mexico child, not just the ones that it’s popular to care about.”

      Sanchez called out Martinez for bringing to the podium during her speech two students who survived being shot a year ago at BerrendoMiddle School in Roswell. He said it was disingenuous, considering the governor’s stance on gun control, such as her opposition to background checks at gun shows.

      Senate Democrats also plan to push legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage to around $10 an hour from the current rate of $7.50 and tie its future growth to changes in the cost of living. Sanchez said the absence of any reference to her veto last year of legislation that would have raised the minimum wage, or discussion of the controversial behavioral health care shake-up that her administration led, signaled that Martinez was dodging some of her administration’s failures in the address.

      While Martinez preached bipartisanship in her speech, Sanchez said, working cooperatively with Democrats has not been her practice. Rather, he said Martinez during her first term clung rigidly to her own plans, leaving little room for negotiation. “If that’s bipartisanship, then let me out the door,” he said, “because I don’t want any part of it.”

      Contact Patrick Malone at 986-3017 or pmalone@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter 

       

      Governor-backed retention bill tops list of high-profile proposals before lawmakers

      Posted: Sunday, January 18, 2015 | Updated: 1:02 am, Mon Jan 19, 2015.

      By Milan Simonich
      The New Mexican |

      Gov. Susana Martinez, now in her fifth year in office, has a legislative agenda that resembles her first one from 2011.Martinez, a Republican, is again supporting a bill to retain third-graders who are not proficient on standardized reading tests. It will be among the high-profile proposals of the 60-day legislative session that begins Tuesday.
      During her first year as governor, Martinez persuaded members of the House of Representatives to approve a bill to hold back third-graders who score below par on reading tests. But that measure died in the Senate, and Democrats have since increased their opposition to forced student retention.
      Passing along ill-prepared third-graders, which Martinez calls “social promotion,” is a disservice to kids and taxpayers, the governor says.
      Senate Democrats, though, say mandatory retention laws don’t help kids succeed academically and may actually hurt their progress.
      Sen. Bill Soules, a teacher, says even researchers who have tried to vouch for mandatory retention programs cannot make a compelling case.
      For instance, third-graders in Florida who were retained for low reading scores were required to attend summer school. After that, they were placed in the classroom of a “high-performing teacher,” and they received an extra 90 minutes of reading instruction daily throughout the school year.
      Soules, D-Las Cruces, said those aggressive and well-funded steps by Florida lawmakers accounted for any student improvements in reading. Without morale-killing forced retentions, students getting all that extra academic help might have done better still, Soules said.
      Martinez also will continue her push to repeal a 2003 law that allows New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to obtain state driver’s licenses.

      The House of Representatives approved similar bills favored by Martinez in 2011 and 2012, but they died in the Senate.

      This year, Republicans are in control of the House for the first time since 1954, so the license repeal should easily clear that chamber.

      Democratic state senators, however, traditionally have closed ranks to stop Martinez’s repeal bills.

      Read more, here.

      House Democrats say they’ll push minimum wage, education measures

      Monday, January 19, 2015| Updated: 12:23 am, Tue Jan 20, 2015.

      By Milan Simonich
      The New Mexican 

      ALBUQUERQUE — Democrats in the New Mexico House of Representatives, the minority party for the first time since 1954, said Monday they will still be aggressive in pushing a legislative agenda that includes raising the statewide minimum wage by $2.60 an hour.
      Fourteen of the 33 House Democrats appeared together at the South Valley Economic Development Center to highlight their priorities for the 60-day legislative session that starts Tuesday. Republicans in the House have 37 members, giving them better odds of moving their bills through the chamber and on to a state Senate controlled by Democrats.
      The House Democrats’ new floor leader, Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe, said his party would rebut Republican attempts to hold down an increase in the minimum wage with what he called “Chicken Little sky-is-falling” scare tactics.
      Egolf said House Democrats favor Santa Fe Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela’s bill to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.50. Another bill by Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, calls for an increase to $8.30 an hour. Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces already have established higher minimum wages than the state’s.
      Other House Democrats said they would fight for bills to limit class sizes, reduce standardized testing in public schools and keep a 2003 law that allows state residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a New Mexico driver’s license.

      Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, said she was a teenage mother on Acoma Pueblo, a tough start.“Education saved me,” said Louis, now 37 and an attorney. “The opposition values testing over teaching, and that’s not what we’re about.”Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, has introduced a bill enabling parents to withdraw their children from certain tests now mandated by the state. A teacher, Garcia Richard also has filed a proposed constitutional amendment to limit class sizes.

      She said House Democrats want available money spent in classrooms, “not testing and testing companies.”
      Rep. Nate Gentry of Albuquerque, majority leader of House Republicans, criticized Democrats for being combative.
      “It’s sad that it’s not even opening day of the legislative session and already the House Democrats are choosing Washington, D.C.-style divisiveness over bipartisanship,” Gentry said in a statement. “We hope they can change their course and join us in putting politics aside in order to advance our state.”
      Egolf said Democrats are willing to join with Republicans on issues that are in the interest of state residents, but would not abandon core principles.
      Rep. Kenny Martinez, D-Grants, the outgoing speaker of the House, said he is committed to fighting the Republicans’ attempt to pass a bill that would outlaw compulsory membership in unions.
      Martinez said that Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was a fitting time for House Democrats to pledge their support to organized labor.
      “Collective bargaining for jobs is a civil right,” Martinez said.
      He said the Republican proposal would hurt workers, not create jobs. Their bill “takes away the ability of labor to fight for that brotherhood and sisterhood,” Martinez said.
      A freshman Democratic representative, 33-year-old attorney Javier Martinez of Albuquerque, no relation to the outgoing speaker, said Republicans were disingenuous in their attempts to repeal the law that allows New Mexico residents without proof of immigration status to obtain a state driver’s license.

      Republicans often say the repeal is not about immigrants but about public safety.

      “Of course it’s about immigration,” Javier Martinez said. “They’re targeting immigrants to score cheap political points.”

      Javier Martinez, born in El Paso, spent his boyhood on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said immigrants come to New Mexico because they want a better, safer life.

      Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, no relation to the legislators, has campaigned against the licensing law since 2010. She calls it dangerous and says it is a magnet for fraud because people who do not live in New Mexico come to the state to illegally obtain a license.

      Javier Martinez said that argument is weak because so other many states have followed New Mexico’s lead and granted driving privileges to undocumented immigrants. Seven states and Washington, D.C., in 2013 approved immigrant licensing laws similar to New Mexico’s.

       

      Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at santafenewmexican.com.

      California’s huge blow against stupidity about immigrant driver’s licenses

      Michael Hiltzik

      LOS ANGELES TIMES michael.hiltzik​@latimes.com

      January 2, 2015

      It took more than a year to get the ball rolling, but California just struck one of the most important blows against brainless public policymaking in years: The state on Friday started issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

      As my colleagues Brittny Mejia and Cindy Carcamo report, at some DMV offices lines wound around the block. That’s a testament to the desire of many of these immigrants to get right with the law and to come out of the shadows where they’ve been relegated by decades of anti-immigrant stupidity.

      A quick review of history is in order. It’s a sad chronicle. As I reported in 2013, for years California had allowed residents to apply for licenses even if they couldn’t prove their legal status. That ended in 1993, when the Legislature mandated that applicants prove they were in the country legally. That era marked a low point for the state’s treatment of immigrants — it was the period when the state was overcome by a fit of immigrant-bashing, led by then-Gov. Pete Wilson, that also yielded the infamous Proposition 187.

      Why bar immigrants from applying for licenses? It was said that terrorists could use licenses to sneak around the country, causing mayhem. It was also said that these people are in the country illegally — why give them the privilege of driving?

      California’s law deals with the first objection by requiring close scrutiny of the proofs of identity that applicants will be able to use as alternatives to Social Security numbers. (That’s why the DMV needed more than a year after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the lawin October 2013 to start issuing applications.)

      The second concern was always nonsensical. Licenses aren’t just handed over; the applicants have to pass the same driving tests as anyone else. Nor are licenses a privilege — they’re a necessity and a testament that their holders have met reasonable driving and safety standards. Who was harmed by keeping undocumented immigrants out of this system? Ordinary citizens, for whom the roads were made unsafe and insurance bills driven higher by unlicensed and uninsured drivers. The expectation is that the market for insurance among the newly licensed drivers will soar.

      Sadly, California wasn’t a pioneer in restoring licensure for these residents, though it’s the biggest — 10 other states have already done so, including Utah, New Mexico and Washington, and their experience has generally been positive. And the California law implemented Friday still betrays the legacy of counterproductive immigrant-bashing. Each license issued under its provisions will bear a legend stating that it is “not acceptable for official federal purposes,” such as boarding an airplane.

      How does that make sense? The purpose of showing ID at the airport gate is to verify that the passenger is who he or she claims to be; California’s immigrants will have to submit documents and a thumbprint verifying their identities and proving they reside in California (in addition to passing the vision, written and road tests required of all other residents).  If anything, their verification is more valid than that of ordinary travelers, not less. Their licenses should be welcomed by the TSA, not shunned.

      Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who fought to restore licensing rights for undocumented immigrants for years while serving in the state Assembly, put the issue in perspective in 2012. “For 60 years, California had the safest highways in the country,” he told me. “Then we started playing immigration politics with highway safety, and our highways got a lot less safe.”

      Keep up to date with the Economy Hub. Follow @hiltzikm on Twitter, see our Facebook page, or email mhiltzik@latimes.com.