OVER A THOUSAND PROTESTERS MARCH AGAINST REPUBLICANS’ DRIVER’S LICENSE REPEAL PROPOSAL
FEBRUARY 2, 2015
Santa Fe, NM--Over a thousand immigrant workers and their children from throughout New Mexico marched to the Roundhouse on Monday to protest the sixth attempt by the Governor and her anti-immigrant allies to repeal the current law that requires undocumented immigrants to be licensed. Hundreds of New Mexican children carrying New Mexican flags led the march wearing bright yellow t-shirts that said "My my mother is an immigrant. Keep our parents licensed."
On the heels of a party-line vote in the House Public Safety and Civil Affairs Committee to advance two repeal bills sponsored by Republican Representatives Paul Pacheco and Bill Rehm, members of the statewide immigrant's rights organization Somos Un Pueblo Unido delivered five thousand petitions urging legislators to stop persecuting immigrant workers and families. They were joined by several representatives from New Mexico Labor, faith and civil rights organizations.
Zully Alvarado, an immigrant from Mexico who has lived in Clovis for 11 years and has five US citizen children said at Monday's protest: "In the last five years of this driver's license debate, we've been shamefully likened to criminals, gang members, and terrorists by this Governor and Republicans like Representatives Bill Rehm and Paul Pacheco.We are New Mexican. Our children our New Mexican. We use our drivers' licenses to contribute to this state and provide for our families. Shame on these politicians for lying about us and dividing communities. Enough is enough!"
Participants at Immigrant Day of Action, representing over 15 counties, focused primarily on the effect that a driver's license repeal would have on the 100,000 New Mexican children who, according the Immigration Policy Center, have at least one immigrant parent.
"How does taking licenses away from immigrant parents help the educational opportunities, health, and economic security of their US Citizen children," said Alejandra Seluja, Board Member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "The Governor shouldn't cherry pick which children in New Mexico she supports based on politics. All kids matter!"
"As proud public educators, we are committed to ensuring every child in New Mexico is able to receive a world-class, high quality public education, regardless of immigration status," said Stephanie Ly, President of the New Mexico's American Federation of Teachers. "This driver's license issue has the potential to divide families. I can tell you that a child raised in a strong family setting is a child who is better prepared to succeed in the classroom, and is a child who is better prepared to succeed in life."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico Federation of Labor, NM Catholic Conference of Bishops, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Equality New Mexico, & ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights organized Monday's events. Along with immigrant families, education, health, human rights and faith advocates joined the march and protest.
"Stories of migration have been part of the Sacred Scriptures of many religions. Seeking refuge from enemies or hostile environments is a human right." said Rev. Antonio Aja, Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe. "Our state has a history of welcoming them as our neighbors. Let us continue to offer all families, regardless of immigration status, access to drivers' licenses which allow families to make a decent living and contribute to our society without fear of reprisal or deportation."
"This driver's license proposal is nothing more than an anti-immigrant and anti-family bill. LGBT families know very well what it is like to have our families treated as second class," said Amber Royster, Executive Director of Equality New Mexico. "Separate is not equal. WE call on our legislators to stand up for what is sensible and what is right. Giving in to the politics of hate and fear is simply not an option for New Mexico."
Somos is a New Mexico-based immigrant's rights organization that works with a network of faith groups, law enforcement officials, DWI prevention agencies, domestic violence providers, and immigrant groups that support the continued issuance of drivers' licenses to immigrants in New Mexico.
© 2014 SOMOS UN PUEBLO UNIDO