I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Despite odds against change, protesters rally — for and against — driver’s licenses
On the first day of the special session, protesters opposing the governor’s push to ban driver’s licenses rallied in the Capitol while tea party supporters supported the governor.
Sandra Baltazar Martinez paints the scene:
“I know they need to get out of Mexico because of the bad conditions, but some are here to do harm,” the 14-year-old Cooper said as he stood outside the Capitol on Tuesday morning with more than 100 tea party supporters, carrying signs with such messages as “Language? English. Culture? American. Borders? Closed!”
And while tea partyers rallied outside to support Gov. Susana Martinez’s push to eliminate the 2003 law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses, the Border Network for Human Rights held its own news conference inside the Capitol, delivering 5,000 petitions to Martinez’s office from Southern New Mexico residents who support driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants.
Tuesday was the border group’s “action day” to lobby and visit Southern New Mexico legislators. On Thursday, the Santa Fe-based immigrant rights’ group Somos Un Pueblo Unido plans to lead another “action day” at noon along with four other statewide organizations, including Engaging Latino Communities for Higher Education and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Allan Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Martinez — whose family’s roots are in Mexico — is a true illustration of the “American dream.”
Sanchez led the Border Network for Human Rights supporters in a loud chant, aimed at getting the attention of the fourth floor’s administration. “Governor, Jesus was an immigrant, too!” they shouted as they held New Mexico and American flags.
Driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants is the most heated issue in New Mexico, but it seems unlikely that legislation changing it will come out of the special session. Martinez has vowed not to compromise on the issue — for example, by making foreign national driver’s licenses renewable every two years or a Utah-style license that would not allow for airplane travel. And the Senate rejected Martinez’ proposal last March.
Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings (D-Roswell) has also complained about the “partisan tone” of the governor’s proclamation for special session, referring to the governor’s inclusion of controversial items, front and center the license issue. “If we keep with this political rhetoric … that is so antagonistic, we’ll never get the job done,” he said.