Jennings speaks in favor of a compromise

Here are excerpts from a speech Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, just made in the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

“We didn’t get into this problem overnight. We were denied statehood 50 times, more than any other state. We had too many Mexicans. A lot of it had to do with our ties with Mexico. How do you change all that? I don’t know. That’s just one thing we have to deal with.”

The facts on the ground are complex, Jennings said.

“We have a father that’s legal the mother is not. And there are four kids. What, are you going to send mom home? These are the situations we have to deal with.”

“When we get up here talk about family values. Family values is not sending one brother home, or the mother home, and leaving the father here,” Jennings said.

The Roswell Democrat also said the Senate just confirmed Lupe Martinez as the state’s new corrections secretary. The corrections secretary spent the first years of her life in the U.S. as an undocumented person.

Jennings appeared proud of the Senate’s action, and of Gov. Susana Martinez’s nomination of Secretary Martinez.

“I have all the respect for the governor for appointing her,” Jennings said.

Jennings was arguing for an amendment that he said Democratic and Republican senators worked on earlier this session. Democratic lawmakers hope to amend Nunez’s bill with this compromise.

The bill would allow New Mexico to continue issuing drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants. The licenses would last two years. Those seeking licenses without social security numbers would have to go through a particular process.  It appears to mirror the state’s current policy. They would have to present a matricula or foreign passport along with other documents that prove identity and New Mexico residency to the state’s Motor Vehicle Division. A matricula is a document issued by the Mexican government for citizens living abroad.

The bill also would make it a fourth-degree felony to falsify documents used to receive a driver’s license. It also would make it a third-degree felony for anyone who works at a state agency and traffics in falsified documents used in getting a driver’s license.

The compromise would do something that Nuñez’s bill doesn’t: revoke state driver’s licenses from illegal immigrants who don’t meet certain conditions. Such license holders within two years would have been required to present a matricula or foreign passport along with other documents that prove identity and New Mexico residency to the state’s Motor Vehicle Division. Amatricula is a document issued by the Mexican government for citizens living abroad.

About 80,000 foreign nationals have New Mexico driver’s licenses, although it’s unclear how many are in the U.S. illegally.

Nunez didn’t appear too happy about the proposed changes.

“I’m looking at how much is gutted,” Nunez told the senators.

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About triptothecapitol

Trip Jennings is a Capitol reporter at the Santa Fe New Mexican.
This entry was posted in 2011 New Mexico Legislature, Immigration. Bookmark the permalink.

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