Friday, September 09, 2011
Hundreds Protest Governor Susana Martinez's Anti-Immigration Agenda with Santa Fe Rally
From Somos Un Pueblo Unido:
Yesterday at the state capitol hundreds of immigrant families, supporters as well as community and faith groups from across the state, rallied in Santa Fe to protest Governor Martinez' continued attack on immigrant workers and families, and to support driver's licenses for all residents of New Mexico.
Carrying signs that said, "Public Safety Over Politics" and "Don't License Racism," participants included immigrants from over ten communities across the state as well as representatives from a coalition of organizations including Somos Un Pueblo Unido, the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, Engaging Latino Communities for Higher Education (ENLACE), LULAC New Mexico, ABQ Partnership for Community Action, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico and the New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
"Why should New Mexico stop requiring immigrant drivers to be licensed and have insurance? Why wouldn't we want their records in a database available to law enforcement? It's a no-brainer," said Pablo Martínez, a New Mexico LULAC Board Member and retired law enforcement administrator. "This repeal effort isn't about what's good for New Mexico, it's a part of a larger political strategy to alienate Latino communities from Arizona to Alabama. New Mexico has worked hard to foster positive and respectful race relations since statehood, and we don't appreciate these outside ideologies based on the politics of hate."
Marcela Díaz of Somos Un Pueblo Unido said the Governor's administration has repeatedly singled-out immigrants and created an environment of fear for immigrants and their families. "We're here today to show Governor Martinez that we stand united, and we refuse to be bullied and intimidated by her administration's tactics. It's integral to the safety of all New Mexicans for residents of New Mexico to be licensed and insured, and in coalition with dozens of faith and community groups across the state, we'll continue to advocate for that," Díaz said.
In 2003, community and faith groups, victims' rights advocates, and law enforcement officials came together to promote a law allowing all residents of New Mexico, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a driver's license. Over the past eight years, about 80,000 foreign nationals have successfully applied, taken their eye, written and road exams, registered their vehicles and purchased auto insurance.
In an effort to address legitimate concerns regarding fraud and abuse in the driver's license process, the Senate introduced and passed during the 2011 legislative session a better option for New Mexico than the proposed repeal of all foreign nationals driver's licenses. Governor Martinez did not sign the legislation into law, and has continued to push for repeal of the law during the current special session.
Meredith Machen, Vice President of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, said on Thursday, "In addition to supporting comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, the League supports New Mexico's current system for drivers' licenses because it provides individuals with proper identification and increases public safety. We believe that New Mexico legislators need to focus on redistricting in the special session. Other agenda items are not relevant at this time."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant advocacy group that spearheaded the campaign in 2003 with law enforcement officials, victims' rights agencies, and faith and civil right group groups to require foreign nationals to apply for licenses, obtain insurance, and register their vehicles. Visit www.somosunpueblounido.org/DLNews for more information. You can friend Somos Un Pueblo Unido on Facebook.