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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New Executive Order by Susana Martinez on Law Enforcement Invites Racial Profiling

SusanaMartinezTerrellCr By now you've probably heard about Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's latest executive order giving state police the green light to stop and arrest anyone who looks "suspicious" so they can check their immigration status and report it to the feds. Any arrest for any crime, no matter how petty or manufactured, will do. Martinez claims this will protect us from an imagined multitude of criminals who cross the border to ... work and feed their families. I wonder if Susana could provide any statistics on the percentage of people without papers who actually engage in any crime to speak of. I doubt it. Facts just seem to get in the way of most right-wing propaganda. 

Let's face it, there's really no need to issue such an order, other than to foist more fear-based propaganda onto the people -- to scare Americans into thinking we need a creeping, right-wing police state to keep us "safe" and to scare undocumented folks and minorities in general into staying in the shadows like hunted animals. Win-win for a governor who's seeking to make a national name for herself like her patron Sarah Palin has done, and to hell with what happens to New Mexicans in the process. 

The fact of the matter is that -- in the real world -- police can and do ascertain the legal status of those who populate our jails. They have for many years now. Real criminals get checked and reported. But what this order does is offer shelter to the kind of state cops who revel in acting out their bigotry or bullying nature by targeting "suspicious" individuals in order to hound and intimidate them, sometimes just for fun.

This order helps whip up an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. And it gives the bad eggs in state law enforcement more free rein than they already have to single out, follow, stop, scare and arrest people whose looks they don't like -- based on even the most petty or imagined "crimes" -- and demand their papers. And bad eggs certainly DO exist within law enforcement, despite what Susana, Darren White or others may prefer to believe. Even if these bad eggs don't actually end up arresting and checking the papers of folks they target, they can still keep them in a state of fear by looking like they might.

A Damper on Reporting Crime
As a side "benefit," Susana's order will no doubt result in a growing reticence on the part of undocumented people to risk detection and deportation by reporting domestic violence or other crimes they experience or witness -- because they might get arrested by mistake or by design by a law enforcement officer who responds to the call. This includes young folks who would benefit from the Dream Act because -- even though for all intents and purposes they have been raised as loyal Americans and identify as such -- they were brought into the country at a young age by parents without papers. Why put yourself in jeopardy? Better to remain silent and let the real criminals get away with their crimes. This helps nobody except the criminals, no matter what Gov. Martinez claims.

Martinez's order includes language that states, "it is essential that victims of, and witnesses to, crime are able to report those crimes and that they be assured access to our criminal justice system without fear of deportation or other immigration consequences." However, once unleashed, does anyone really believe that some state law enforcement agents won't abuse their increased powers to do just what Martinez's language says will not be done?  The governor's spokesman has also said state police will not ask about the immigration status of motorists stopped for traffic violations such as speeding. Uh huh. Well, it is quite easy to come up with some other minor infraction that will do the trick in making a simple traffic stop into something that justifies an arrest -- and a demand for documents.

Others Weigh In
Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) strongly condemned Governor Martinez’s order, which also rescinds Governor Richardson’s 2005 order instructing law enforcement to refrain from inquiring into a suspect’s immigration status. 

According to Peter Simonson, ACLU Executive Director, “This executive order invites racial profiling by giving an incentive to police to arrest people who look and sound 'foreign'. New Mexicans should not have to fear that a broken taillight or other pretextual stop will lead to their arrest because of the color of their skin. Gov. Martinez has created an SB 1070-like policy, contradicting her own commitment to keep our state from following in Arizona’s footsteps.”

Today, Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Javier Gonzales weighed in on the matter by saying, "Arizona here we come. This executive order opens the door to racial profiling in New Mexico and that is never acceptable. Obviously anyone convicted of a crime deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but this executive order does nothing to help police and prosecutors accomplish that goal."

What it does do is give Martinez another splash in the national media and stoke the image she's carefully crafting as a "tough" right-wing operator. Politics before people.

Photo credit: Cropped version of photo by Steve Terrell used under the terms of the Creative Commons.

February 1, 2011 at 03:33 PM in Border Issues, Civil Liberties, Domestic Violence, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Minority Issues, Susana Martinez | Permalink


I feel sad for our state as we are now being led by the first Hispanic female who encourages racial profiling against the residents of New Mexico. This is 2011 and the issues of race and discrimination are again spewing from the mouths of Americans as Mexicans are now the center of the hate race. Have we not learned from passed mistakes? Have we no compassion for human beings escaping political corruption, severe poverty, and drug violence? Do we not see nor hear the MILLIONS of undocumented workers and children that are contributing to our society in more ways that can be explained in this commentary? Take off the sunglasses Mrs. Martinez and grab a New Mexico history book. Before you can be an effective leader of any state and it's people you must first know where we, AND YOU, come from. I guess political positions have no prerequisites. Anyone spreading hatred is no leader of mine.

Posted by: Alyssa | Feb 1, 2011 6:18:22 PM

As proud as I am of a fellow Hispanic being elected to the highest state office; I should also now mention the nuances of Hispanic-isms.
First off, many Hispanics are ashamed of their mixed-blood heritage & will do anything that can deny the fact that almost all Hispanics in the New World have at least some form of Indian, Spanish or African blood. Actions like the one mentioned here push the Governor into that category. I think she is ashamed of who she is & is trying to deflect that humiliation on to most voiceless & vulnerable.
Unfortunately, I applaud decisions like this; not because they hurt the most voiceless & vulnerable in our society but because of the un-winnable lawsuits that show the errors of this type of legislation. I just hope the Governor remembers the families she broke up & the financial costs that her decisions will cost the state of New Mexico. I wonder if she really understands the history of this state?

Posted by: Adrian Juarez | Feb 1, 2011 7:33:46 PM

We need far more from the ACLU-NM than just a statement of condemnation. This needs to be challenged in court immediately.

Posted by: Art Jaquez | Feb 1, 2011 10:21:14 PM

"As a side "benefit," Susana's order will no doubt result in a growing reticence on the part of undocumented people to risk detection and deportation by reporting domestic violence or other crimes they experience or witness -- because they might get arrested by mistake or by design by a law enforcement officer who responds to the call."
We can expect a rise in slavery and exploitation of women and children. Dark days are ahead having driven a population of people farther underground in a totalitarian state.

Posted by: qofdisks | Feb 1, 2011 11:45:41 PM

Missouri has a more reasonable law: "HB 1549 requires our Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person arrested, and inform federal authorities if the person is found to be here illegally. It also allows Missouri law enforcement officers to receive training to enforce federal immigration laws."

STOP the racial profiling.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Feb 2, 2011 8:12:05 AM

Wonderful decision by our new governor. You will see a lot more states this year take this step of ENFORCING THE LAW. As Milton Friedman said, "You cannot have both open borders and a welfare state."

Posted by: Paul Correa | Feb 2, 2011 8:41:16 AM

Here is a real example of what happens. We have friends, he came here "illegally" as a young single man to work, married a US Citizen, they had two kids. He got stopped on a minor traffic violation,signed a paper agreeing to voluntarily deport, not knowing what he was signing. They fought it and after many $$ lost in the BIA- Bureau of Immigration-their only legal recourse. He had to go to Juarez for 2 years while we worked to get his green card. For two years she had to be on welfare food stamps etc. He had always supported the family. Now how does that help us? Separate a family and add to our welfare rolls? Fortunately they are now reunited, and he will someday be a citizen. Of NM? Is that good or bad?

Posted by: cheryl | Feb 2, 2011 8:41:18 AM

"Paul Correa" - Milton Friedman's idiotic ideas are what got us to this failed economy with the rich having almost all of the money and the rest struggling like peons. His followers also backed the evil Pinochet in Chile. Know your history?

Right wingnuts are turning what was once a friendly open minded state into a place where hate mongers are celebrated. This governor is ignorant, mean and bigoted with a self hatred that makes her a good pawn for the GOP. She is against everything positive that might move our state into the 21st century and wants to push us back into the past.

We will be a laughing stock of the nation now, like Arizona and Mississippi.

Posted by: Juan C. | Feb 2, 2011 11:57:21 AM

I whole-heartedly support and praise Gov. Martinez's executive order on immigration. Racial profiling? Give me a break!! ACLU? Should be called the Illegal Immigrants Glee Club. Human rights? Not even close. The key word in this whole issue is "ILLEGAL"!! Why can't people understand that?? Don't blame the woes and sad sacks' problems on the US; blame it on the illegals, who somehow cannot find the personal integrity to live their lives as caring human beings. Stop them from coming into our country illegally, throw them back across the border the first time, extensive jail time (in Mexico) for the 2nd offense, and more extensive hard labor jail time in the jungles of Guatemala for a subsequent offense. Eventually, as a last resort for our country, a COMPLETELY closed Mexican border would seem to be appropriate. No one crosses the border - period.

Posted by: Guillermo | Feb 2, 2011 2:10:26 PM

Normally I would probably delete the comment by "Guillermo" for being, ignorant, racist and insulting. However, I checked the IP address for the computer he used to comment and found that he's in Tempe, Arizona. I highly doubt his name is Guillermo.

I decided to leave his comment up so that people can see how NM is now being applauded by the worst Arizona can offer as being another state where the governor is intent on stirring up hatred and fear, just like Jan Brewer in AZ.

Sometimes it's best just to let readers see the kind of mindset actions like Susana's help to create and nourish.

Posted by: barb | Feb 2, 2011 2:37:52 PM

''I wonder if Susana could provide any statistics on the percentage of people without papers who actually engage in any crime to speak of. I doubt it.''

EXCUSE ME!!!.......Every single person without papers ALREADY HAS committed a crime. Being here ILLEGALLY IS a crime!

Posted by: Whoo Who | Feb 3, 2011 8:15:23 AM

Being undocumented is not a crime. It is breaking a rule. The real criminals are people who have only hate in their hearts and want to starve people and put them in prison for trying to survive. I would trade out the haters like the one above and keep the immigrants. They work hard and don't hate.

Posted by: Go Away Haters | Feb 3, 2011 10:18:48 AM

No where did I say I hate anyone? BUT, what part of IL-LEGAL immigrant do you not understand. Tell me what country you could sneak into ILLEGALLY and be welcomed with open arms?

I am not against immigration, but there is a right and wrong way to do it.

Posted by: Whoo Who | Feb 3, 2011 12:09:31 PM

Why is it that right wing hate mongers always YELL BY USING ALL CAPS? To cover up that they never use any facts?

Posted by: Sean | Feb 3, 2011 12:50:41 PM

It is always obvious who knows their history and who does not when you read comments such as posted here... A good law is something that is good for everyone and will not cause a landslide of problems to come...We are not debating Immigration here and unless you are Native American then your family are also immigrants to this country....What part of that do you not understand? The implications that arise from legislation such as this is the newly created fear among residents to report crimes in their community. Crimes against women and children especially. Racial profiling is not ok, and all hispanics (citizens and all) should not accept this type of action as an acceptable policy for our state. Minority groups have been oppressed for many years in the United States and because of that Minorities themselves (such as our first Hispanic Female Gov.- Susana Martinez) are Sub-Oppressing others of their own race. It really is sad that people cannot see past their own ignorant views on race to see the effects this will cause. With an ESTIMATED 10-12 MILLION undocumented immigrants in the U.S. right now, this is a much bigger issue than "What part of illegal don't you get?"
We must work together not apart if we want to progress. Stop the hate and deal with the fears that you have. What are you scared of? Are you xenophobic? Look it up... What is it that scares you about these people? You trust them to pick your crops, clean your homes, build your homes, watch your kids, and many other jobs that you enjoy paying less for....So again I challenge you to deal with your own fears before you speak.

Posted by: Barbara J. | Feb 3, 2011 2:12:38 PM

Can some go arrest "Whoo Who" as this individual is clearly breaking the law.This individual is obviously unfamiliar with the rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and those enshrined by the New Mexico constitution regarding the rights of people who are of Hispanic ancestry.
In regards to the simplistic reasoning that is evident by the question, "Which country, etc...", well, the answer is America. America welcomes with open arms "illegals" as they work for pennies on the dollar and don't complain about the well-documented exploitation.

Posted by: Adrian Juarez | Feb 3, 2011 5:50:50 PM

Recent events in New Mexico resemble the political activities inside Arizona a few years back when there was talk about controlling the constant influx of illegal aliens and immigrants coming into the state from the South and causing the eventual demise of their social support programs. Suffering from clientele overloads related to food stamps, welfare, health care and education, the state changed the way they did business by identifying non citizens in their programs. Eventually, this spread to the community law enforcement as police were required to check ID of those stopped for statutory violations ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Needless to say, this approach is not new and began with the enforcement of federal laws already on the books but not enforced by the Border Patrol, the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency or the DHS. Having little choices how to combat this problem, governments are at their wits end to do something that is the least infringing on our constitutional rights but effective enough to stop the growth of illegal immigrants within the state.

The passage of SB 1070 was hailed to be the bill to cure all ills and but still has several sections tied up in the Ninth Circuit court for clarification on certain elements of the bill and its constitutionality. It seems that New Mexico’s governor has signed Executive Order 2011-09 which states or mandates that state law enforcement personnel must inquire an individual’s immigration status of any “criminal suspect”. Assuming the role of the federal law enforcement officers in the state, this mandate will be challenged and brought to court within a very short amount of time.
I agree that the state has a right to protect its citizens and its economy,resources and do it if Congress won't. The Governor is trying to protect and serve the US citizens of the state and is encouraging others not here legally to find a lawful method to become legalized to avoid being deported or prosecuted as a criminal for breaking the laws. Arizona stood up for its rights and New Mexico should as well. I lived in NM for 33 years and AZ for 5 and although I love the culture and traditional celebrations of the SW, the law is the law and amnesty is out of the question. Congress has had an immigration bill since 1996 and failed to enforce it.

Posted by: carl toersbijns | Feb 5, 2011 12:07:22 PM

If the law is the law why is Susana Martinez hell bent on protecting polluters that poison our water, land, air and food? She is very selective in choosing who to go after. Funny, she protects the criminals who gave her big campaign contributions. BOLD change!

NM doesn't have a big "problem" with immigrants. This executive order is nothing but red meat for the bigots in the Republican/tea party base and is meant to show she is one of them. She wants headlines and doesn't care about much else.

Posted by: Joseph | Feb 5, 2011 12:34:44 PM

RE:carl toersbijns

Good point and you appear to try and view this issue from an objective stance. However, I have to question your logic on certain levels.
The first point is on the concrete level of social support programs: Financial audits & usage trends (i.e. a "head count" of who uses social services) have revealed that the strain originates from people who are US citizens combined with municipal, state and federal cuts in the funding of these programs.
Your choice of vocabulary "ills" and "protect" point to a thinly-veiled holding of racist tension. You have lived here for close to 40 years but have yet to understand that this SW has and will always subscribe to a non-White American culture that was built with the harshness of the Spanish sword and then exploited by a colonial ruling class. For centuries before you arrived here, this SW, has been a place where "mixed-races" lived side by side with each other, sometimes in harmony, sometimes not.
Finally, Congress will not enforce the border as the real power brokers, Wall Street, wants the border open. In the aftermath of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, Wall Street now has legal protection to really run the politics of this nation. The true source of tension is the destruction of the middle class by Wall Street; on a more concrete level, this has turned places like the Northeast (Boston-NYC-Philadelphia-Washington) & Southern California from places where one could live and work and be middle class to an area where you are either rich or poor, and entrance into those respective economic categories. Now you see places like Arizona, Texas and other states chasing out their middle classes and becoming what Wall Street wants these places to become. I feel for Americans who were once able to feed and raise their families in areas where they had been for generations but in this globalized economy, its not happening. Just look at what's happening in Latin America; which we are seeing with the continuous arrival of "Southerners", the peasant class of China and the lower castes of India.

Posted by: Adrian Juarez | Feb 6, 2011 2:07:13 PM

Adrian makes sense. Thank you.

Posted by: Old Dem | Feb 6, 2011 2:43:43 PM

Giving Congress a pass is wrong. I know that Wall Street likes the status quo and that must change if we are to be a true sovereign nation with borders to keep all of us safe. Using my “logic” and winding down the priorities in this country I see the following order and I might be wrong but here it goes. Fix the economy, find more jobs, deal with terrorism and social security, and improve education, deficit and healthcare. Prioritize these and take immigration as a middle priority ensuring we take care of the most important matters first.

Now on the other issue –drain on social support programs -Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84.2 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments. _ the annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native headed household of $1,117. The fiscal impact per household varies considerably because the greatest share of the burden falls on state and local taxpayers whose burden depends on the size of the illegal alien population in that locality _ Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments. _ At the federal level, about one-third of outlays are matched by tax collections from illegal aliens. At the state and local level, an average of less than 5 percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration is recouped through taxes collected from illegal aliens. _Most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes. Among those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal aliens when they file tax returns. Many are also claiming tax credits resulting in payments from the U.S. Treasury. EDUCATION Subtotal$2,107,800,000 - MEDICAL Subtotal $5,949,900,000 -LAW ENFORCEMENT Subtotal $7,838,700,000 - PUBLIC ASSISTANCE Subtotal $4,564,600,000 – GENERAL EXPENDITURES $8,184,400,000 - TOTAL $28,645,400,000

Posted by: Carl Toersbijns | Feb 7, 2011 2:34:42 PM

Carl your numbers are a bunch of junk. The data is from FAIR, which was classified as a "hate group" in December 2007 by the Southern Poverty Law Center -

Posted by: Old Dem | Feb 7, 2011 4:35:12 PM

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