STATEWIDE IMMIGRANT GROUP DENOUNCES TODAY’S VOTE BY REPUBLICANS TO TAKE AWAY LICENSES FROM IMMIGRANT FAMILIES; HUNDREDS TO PROTEST ON FEBRUARY 2ND
JANUARY 29, 2015
Santa Fe, NM--Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico's statewide immigrant's rights organization, denounced tonight's dangerous and shameful actions by Republican members of the House Safety and Civil Affairs to move forward two recycled proposals that would take drivers' licenses away from the immigrant parents of up to 100,000 children in New Mexico.
"The Governor and her anti-immigrant allies in the House have no valid arguments left other than to attack the immigrant parents of New Mexican children. Our driver's license law has been on the books for 12 years. It is proven and it works. New Mexico is a safer place because of it," said María Cristina López, a Somos Founding Board Member, in response to the vote. "The only ones putting putting us in danger are the Republicans themselves."
In response to this 6th attempt to take away licenses, immigrant families, faith leaders, and allies from across the state plan on marching to the Roundhouse on Monday, February 2nd as part of Immigrant Day of Action 2015. The march will begin at 11am at the Railyard Park (740 Cerrillos Rd, SF, NM) and will end with a protest in front of the Capitol on the east concourse.
"We come in the hundreds every year to show legislators that we are a part of New Mexico. We live, work, and pay taxes here just like everyone else," said Roberto Sanchez, a Somos member who has participated with his three sons in Immigrant Day of Action every year since 2011. "It's just sad that we have to keep defending our families and children from this administration's lies and attacks."
HB 32 and HB 79, sponsored by Representative Paul Pacheco and Representative Bill Rehm respectively, would make roads and families less safe and harm the educational opportunities and economic security of children born in New Mexico who have immigrant parents. These children count on their parent's driver's license for safe transportation, as well as for identification at schools, pharmacies, doctor's offices, hospitals, and state agencies.
During today's hearing NM State Secretary Demesia Padilla and Representative Pacheco continued citing the need for our state to comply with the Real ID as one of the reasons for repealing drivers' licenses, but many of her assertions about the REAL ID Act were just plain false.
"The Real ID does indeed allow states to issue drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants. Stating otherwise is simply a misunderstanding of the law or a calculated misrepresentation of the facts," said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "It is shameful that this administration and Republican legislators keep trying to scare New Mexicans with the REAL ID Act, a law whose implementation has been postponed five times because several Republican states like Arizona and Louisiana refuse to comply. It's clear that these repeal bills have nothing to do with REAL ID and everything to do with the Governor's anti-immigrant agenda."
As a result of the current driver's license law, over 90,000 immigrant residents of New Mexico have taken the required driver's license exams, purchased insurance, registered their vehicles, and entered their residency and identity information into the state's largest law enforcement database.
Captain Luis Carlos from the Santa Fe Police Department stated at tonight's hearing: "We oppose these bills because requiring immigrants to be licensed is a tool that the 125 police officers in my department need in order to do their job."
Others testimonies at Thursday's hearing:
"This is nothing more than an anti-immigrant and anti-family bill. LGBT families know very well what it's like to have our families treated as second class. Separate is not equal." - Amber Royster, Executive Director of Equality New Mexico
"I was able to observe the problems faced by immigrants, both prior to and after the passage of the driver's license law. In many ways the law allowing drivers license for immigrants is a victims rights measure. Prior to the law, victims who were involved in auto accidents with non-licensed immigrant drivers had no remedies since unlicensed drivers cannot be insured. I also found that in dealing with cases that required treatment or counseling immigrant families could not legally drive themselves to the various required appointments." - Michael E. Vigil, retired district court judge from Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties.
"We continue to be alarmed by the Real ID misrepresentation in this hearing, these two proposals have nothing to do with the Real ID Act." - Steve Allen, American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico
"Our immigrant sisters and brothers wish to follow the law of this state but will continue to make their children their priority. We support drivers' licenses for all people so families are not forced to choose between caring for the needs of their kids and following the state's driving laws." - Justin Remer-Thamert, NM Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice.
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.
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