November 24, 2011
“DON’T LET NEW MEXICO BE THE NEXT ARIZONA - STOP GOVERNOR MARTINEZ” is the headline on a “Send a Message” action page, on the website called “America’s Voice.”
Emblazoned on the page is a photo of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who has run afoul of the Open Borders lobby for attempting to – can you believe this? – deny driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
Why should this even be controversial? Why do both sides in the illegal immigration dispute regard driver’s licenses as important?
In the U.S.A., a driver’s license is an important piece of identification. More than simply a permission to operate a motor vehicle, the driver’s license is our major form of identification in daily life. American citizens are often asked to show ID, and the ID they usually present is the driver’s license. People use them to cash checks, to prove their age, and to vote.
Driver’s licenses are utilized to obtain other documents. Once you have a driver’s license, obtaining other ID is not too difficult.
Some have amassed veritable collections of driver’s licenses. Ten years ago, the 9/11 terrorists held, among all 19 of them, a whopping 63 driver’s licenses from various states.
In California, the issue of licenses for illegals has been a perennial one in the state legislature, with legislator Gil Cedillo having introduced legislation nine times to get licenses approved for illegal aliens. Cedillo hasn’t been successful – yet.
In the border state of New Mexico – called “The Land of Enchantment” - this issue was on the front burner when the state’s new governor made an effort to change the law and stop issuing licenses to illegal aliens. She was stymied by – surprise, surprise – an activist judge. And since the governor of the state is a Republican woman of Mexican ancestry, her family history has already become an issue.
1st, 2011, Susana Martinez became governor of New Mexico, touted as the
state’s first woman governor and the nation’s first female
During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Candidate Martinez had accused then-governor Bill Richardson of presiding over a “sanctuary” illegal immigration policy. She promised to try to repeal the Richardson law allowing illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses.
As governor, Susana Martinez got off to a good start. On January 31st, she signed an executive order, revoking a previous executive order by previous governor Bill Richardson. The Richardson order had forbidden police from inquiring as to immigration status. The new Martinez order allows police to investigate immigration status of those arrested for crimes.
Governor Martinez explained the situation thusly: "This order takes the handcuffs off of New Mexico's law enforcement officers in their mission to keep our communities safe. The criminal justice system should have the authority to determine the immigration status of all criminals, regardless of race or ethnicity, and report illegal immigrants who commit crimes to federal authorities."
It was a step in the right direction, though falling far short of neighboring Arizona’s SB 1070. But for the open borders lobby it was still too much. Peter Simonson, ACLU chief in New Mexico, said that "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.”
Hold it right there! White American middle class people are stopped constantly for minor traffic violations, and when this happens they run their license through the computer and check their background. It happened to me. Why is this only a problem when it happens to minorities and illegal aliens?
That leads us directly to the driver’s license issue. If only citizens and legal residents have driver’s licenses, that makes it very easy for any person detained for a traffic violation to prove his legality. Which means that the people who scream about profiling ought to be in favor of only issuing licenses to legal residents. Unless of course their real goal is not to fight “profiling” but to encourage illegal immigration.
As a new governor, the driver’s license change was among Susana Martinez´top priorities.
According to the Sonoran News “Martinez also stated one of her first priorities is to revoke driver licenses issued to illegal aliens, pointing out since Arizona passed SB 1070, illegal aliens have been pouring in to New Mexico, which does not require proof of citizenship to obtain licenses.”
Here again is more proof of the efficacy of Arizona’s SB 1070 – illegals were leaving Arizona and heading east to New Mexico.
Under Bill Richardson, the previous governor, DMV clerks were forbidden from inquiring as to immigration status. So not surprisingly, New Mexico became a go-to state for the fraudulent ID industry.
Statistics even indicate that after SB 1070 was passed in neighboring Arizona, in New Mexico there was a 60% increase in the first half of 2010 of licenses issued to foreign-born applicants (including both legals and illegals). Were some of these applicants illegals running from Arizona?
When illegal immigration is winked at, identity fraud is almost certain to increase.
As one example, there was the indictment of three Chinese fraudsters operating out of Albuquerque. What these guys did was put ads in New York City Chinese language newspapers, advertising New Mexico driver’s licenses. Immigrants residing in New York City would fly out to Albuquerque, get their driver’s licenses, and fly back to New York. They didn’t even wait around for the actual licenses, which were mailed to their phony Albuquerque address and forwarded to New York.
Governor Martinez used it as an opportunity to explain why this is a problem: "We have long known of fraud and abuse in our driver's license system and these latest indictments make it clear that we must address (the) problem. We are attracting criminals to our state who exploit our driver's license policy and threaten the safety and security of all New Mexicans."
Governor Martinez, as a Mexican-descended American citizen, was a target due to her ancestry, with her own family background becoming a part of the controversy.
It was reported that Susana Martinez was descended from illegal aliens herself, and she admitted this.
The governor and her spokesman acknowledged that her paternal grandfather was an illegal alien. (This grandfather abandoned his family when his son – future father of Susana – was about five, so she didn’t even meet him). She also said that a pair of her maternal great-grandparents were illegal aliens.
Nevertheless, Governor Martinez doesn’t use her family history as a justification to excuse fraud and lawbreaking, as do many Hispanic politicians.
Her opponents, however, say her ancestry requires her to just drop the whole thing.
Brent Wilkes, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) chief, chided the governor, saying that "Her grandparents shared the same story of many undocumented people. It's a sad day that the governor has chosen to turn her back on the same sacrifices she has benefited from. This is not the governor's finest hour.”
Protestors bore pictures of the Governor at a rally, with a placard that asked "Dear Susana. Do you know your history? Did you forget your roots?"
(More recently, however, it was announced that the governor had some research done that revealed that her paternal grandparents weren’t illegal aliens after all.)
In August, Governor Martinez issued an executive order. Now mind you, this order was not to deny licenses to illegal aliens. It was an order for the state to reverify driver’s licenses issued to foreigners, to verify – not that they are legal residents – but just that they are physically residing in New Mexico.
Of course, that was too much for MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), which sued.
On August 31st in Santa Fe, District Court Judge Sarah Singleton, a Richardson appointee, handed down a temporary restraining order blocking the order. Her justification was that the order could cause “constitutional deprivations to the applicants,” resulting in “irreparable injury.”
How can foreigners be “constitutionally deprived” by the simple fact of their residence being verified?
MALDEF was glad about the ruling, and Martha Gomez, the group’s staff attorney, had the gall to say that "MALDEF will continue to fight throughout this legal process to obtain a final end to this licensing scheme and to restore the rule of law.”
On September 13th, Judge Singleton had another ruling. As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican: “District Judge Sarah Singleton …. decided that some residency checks can continue, although she's putting on hold the administration's broad plan for potentially certifying the licenses of tens of thousands of foreign nationals, including those living illegally in the country. …Singleton said she had problems with the state's decision to require 10,000 foreign nationals with New Mexico driver's licenses to verify in person that they still live in the state. ”
Scott Darnell, Governor Martinez’ spokesman, summed it up thusly: "In the absence of the legislature acting to put an end to the program that provides driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, the governor has the responsibility to identify and attempt to curb the dangerous fraud and identity theft that is inherent in it. The Governor continues to fight alongside the overwhelming majority of New Mexicans who feel that granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants is a dangerous policy that has led to fraud and abuse as nonresidents are trafficked or travel to New Mexico for the sole purpose of getting a driver's license and leaving.”
What Martinez really needs to do – and in fact has tried to do – is have the New Mexico legislature prohibit the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. An attempt to do so failed earlier in the year.
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A New Mexico legislative session lasting 19 days, and ending on September 24th, was an opportunity to deal with the issue. The legislators, however, ignored the request of Governor Martinez to take up the driver’s license question, not even voting on it.
So there you have it. It was a valiant, but failed attempt to stop issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in the state of New Mexico. As in other states, these things take time and each state has its own local issues and idiosyncrasies to be dealt with.
Governor Martinez deserves credit for standing up to the illegal alien/ethnic lobby that would use her own ethnic background against her. We wish her well in future attempts.
� 2011 Allan Wall - All Rights Reserved
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Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.