STATEWIDE GROUPS CONDEMN VOTE BY NM HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO REPEAL DECADES OLD DRIVER’S LICENSE LAW
FEBRUARY 12, 2015
Santa Fe, NM--With over 250 immigrant workers and their US Citizen children looking on from the gallery, all Republicans, along with Representatives Dona Irwin and Stephanie Garcia-Richard, in the NM House of Representatives voted to take away the drivers' licenses of over 90,000 immigrant mothers, fathers, students, and workers throughout New Mexico and threaten the safety of our roads. HB 32, was sponsored by Albuquerque Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco and backed by Governor Martinez.
The following is a statement from Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico's statewide immigrant;s rights organization:
"Tonight, House Republicans with the help of Representatives Dona Irwin and Stephanie García-Richard proved to new Mexico that they are willing to put the politics of division and fear over the well being of tens of thousands of children and the public safety of all New Mexicans. The Republicans' tired arguments about driver's licenses are undercut by the facts, as was clearly demonstrated in tonight's debate. Even legislators who in the past voted for repeal voted against it this time because the reality is that the current law is working. That is why so many states are now following our lead.
Make no mistake, this vote was anti-immigrant, anti-child, and anti-public safety. Repealing this decades old law is guaranteed to cost our state millions in revenue, drive up our insurance rates and put our children in harm's way. Shame on the legislators who voted to put New Mexico down this dangerous and disgraceful road."
More responses from various statewide civil rights, faith and Labor organizations:
"It continues to sadden us that Republican New Mexico legislators think it's okay to play politics with our families and our lives. Taking away the ability of hard working families to get to and from their jobs or take their children to school not only reflects a deep-seeded anti-immigrant and racist conservative agenda, but also the disheartening reality that politics and power trumps New Mexico children and families. We sincerely hope that New Mexico's Senators are willing to actually put New Mexico and New Mexicans first." - Amber Royster, executive director for Equality New Mexico
"It's disappointing that New Mexico house members have made anti-immigrant fear-mongering the centerpiece of their agenda. Rather than working to honor New Mexico's tradition of diversity and commonsense solutions, they're choosing to make it harder for immigrant families in our community to perform basic tasks like buying groceries or taking their children to school, while simultaneously making our roads less safe by decreasing the proportion of drivers who are licensed and insured." - Vicki Gaubeca, director of the director of the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights in Las Cruces
"ADL firmly believes that it is vital that undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico are able to obtain drivers licenses so that they can contribute contributing to our society and economy. We are deeply concerned that proposed legislation like this may lead to more discrimination against immigrants. We remain committed to securing justice and fair treatment for all New Mexicans." - Suki Halevi, New Mexico Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League
"Legislators need to do what's right not just for kids in immigrant families, but for all kids. This is about more than parents being able to drive their kids to school or the doctor's office. This is about public safety for all. Our roads are safer when everyone has passed a driver's test to get a license and buys insurance, and is part of a statewide database that law enforcement professionals rely upon. This bill will make our roads less safe for everyone." - Bill Jordan, Senior Policy Advisor/Governmental Relations for New Mexico Voices for Children.
"What a sad day for our state when a majority of the New Mexico House of Representatives would vote to inflict gratuitous harm on immigrant families just to score a few petty political points. We deserve better." - Steven Robert Allen, Director of Public Policy for the ACLU of New Mexico
"We are ashamed that our state's elected officials have voted to take away driver's licenses from immigrants without regard to the wedge it drives into the well being of tens of thousands of New Mexico's families. Criminalizing families for the supposed fraud and threat posed by a minuscule percent of immigrants is a flagrant waste of resources at a time when impoverished New Mexicans need their legislators to stand for their true needs and basic dignity." - Justin Remer-Thamert, Program Director for the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice
"As nurses we cannot understand the rationale behind taking away from parents the ability to drive their children to the doctor's office, to the health clinic, to the hospital or even to pick them up when their child becomes ill at school. The vote today has the potential of creating a public health disaster for some of the most vulnerable in our community." - Lorie MacIver, President of District 1199NM of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees.
"All this vote does is harm the educational opportunities for thousands of New Mexican children who count on their immigrant parents to drive them to school and to important educational activities. It's shameful when legislators play politics with our children's lives." - Stephanie Ly, President of the New Mexico Federation of Teachers.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.
© 2014 SOMOS UN PUEBLO UNIDO