House passes bill rescinding driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants; heads to Senate now
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Although the debate lasted just over three hours — instead of the six-plus hours from last year — and the rhetoric from at least one opponent was inflammatory, the House of Representatives on Wednesday (Feb. 8th) passed a bill on a 45-25 vote to repeal the law in New Mexico that grants driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Just as he did in last year’s 60-day legislative session, Rep. Andy Nuñez (I-Hatch) carried the bill (House Bill 103) that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says is necessary to ensure public safety but opponents say singles out Hispanics and encourages undocumented workers to go into hiding.
Before the vote, Rep. Nuñez predicted the margin of victory would be wider than it was last year and he was right, as the measure picked up three more Democrats than it did in 2011. But getting the state Senate to pass the bill onto Gov. Martinez will be a much tougher hurdle to clear as the Senate has a solid 28-14 edge in Democrats.
“We’re going to have to work on the Senate,” Nuñez said after the floor session. “We had a pretty wide margin here, 45-25, and I think they [senators] should be considering that. Whether they will or not, it’s hard to say.”
“Our community’s future is at stake,” Elsa López of the immigrants rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unidos said after the vote, adding that she thinks if HB103 becomes law it will lead to a series of other laws aimed at undocumented workers. “This is a repeat of Arizona,” López said.
But the chief of staff for Gov. Martinez flatly rejected that. “The governor has said this isn’t about immigration,” Keith Gardner said after the vote. “We have no desire to do that [imitate bills introduced in Arizona]. We are not in the business of doing immigration law. That’s a federal issue.”
During Wednesday’s debate, supporters of HB103 beat back a number of substitutes from Democrats that tried to offer variations on the bill, such as provisions allowing illegal immigrants to drive in the state with permits that could not be used for identification purposes or allowing undocumented workers to drive but tightening restrictions and instituting fingerprinting to avoid fraud.
“Lawful status — that’s the issue,” said Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Texico), comparing the proposed changes to sleights of hand. “I’m not going to fall for the illusion and I don’t think the people of New Mexico will either.”
At the end of the debate Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque) spoke for more than 20 minutes in his opposition to HB103. Rep. Garcia, who gained some attention last month when he sent out a letter decrying a redistricting judge’s ruling as “return to Jim Crow 21[st] century style,” said there’s “a campaign of hate” surrounding such measures.
Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque) then blasted supporters of bill, saying “If you tell a lie … people will start saying it, then they will start to believe it,” comparing their actions to the “propaganda ministers of Nazi Germany.”
We asked Nuñez about that comment after the vote:
All of the Republicans in the House voted for HB103, along with 11 Democrats.
Here are the 11 D’s who voted for the Nuñez bill:
Ray Begaye of Shiprock
Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces
George Dodge of Santa Rosa
Dona Irwin of Deming
Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint
Rhonda King of Stanley
Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup
Al Park of Albuquerque
Debbie Rodella of Española
Nick Salazar of Ohkay Ohwingeh
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Al Park, Andy Nunez, Antonio Moe Maestas, Debbie Rodella, Dennis Roch, Dona Irwin, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, Elsa Lopez, George Dodge, HB103, Henry "kiki" Saavedra, House Bill 103, Joseph Cervantes, Keith Gardner, Miguel Garcia, Nick Salazar, Patricia Lundstrom, Ray Begaye, Rhonda King, Sandra Jeff, Susana Martinez
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N.M. House sends immigrant driver's license bill to Senate
[...] Senate nowby Marla on February 8, 2012 in Illegal Immigration, Tom Tancredo with No comments Via: New Mexico Watchdog, By Rob Nikolewski Although the debate lasted just over three hours — instead of the six-plus [...]