Susana Martínez Tells Police to Check Immigration Status in New Mexico

Fox News Latino, February 1, 2011

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martínez is directing police to check the immigration status of people arrested for crimes.

The Republican, who made headlines after the November elections when she became the nation’s first Latina governor, said she was eliminating an executive order by former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, that prohibited law enforcement officials from asking people about immigration status.

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However, Martínez said law enforcement working for state agencies will continue to be barred from asking about the immigration status of someone who is a crime victim, a witness to a crime or seeking police assistance. Richardson had ordered that in 2005.

Martínez’s order coincided with a bill introduced Monday that says that undocumented immigrants no longer could obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses that serve as government identification, but they could still drive legally under a compromise bill introduced today.

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Martinez, a career prosecutor before being elected in November, has called on the Legislature to repeal the 2003 law in which people can obtain New Mexico licenses without providing proof of immigration status. {snip}

As for the governor’s executive order regarding police checking immigration documents, Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Martínez, said state police will not ask about immigration status of motorists stopped for traffic violations such as speeding. The administration’s policy applies only when someone is arrested for a crime, he said.

Martínez’s policy drew criticism from a civil rights group.

“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,” said Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico.

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