The announcement last week by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) that her paternal grandparents came to the US illegally brought national attention to a small but growing trend in American politics: the rise of the anti-illegal immigration Latino.
Since taking office last year, one of Governor Martinez’s top priorities has been repealing a state law that lets undocumented immigrants get a driver’s license–something legal only in New Mexico, Washington, and Utah. Martinez also signed an executive order earlier this year requiring state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of criminal suspects.
Even before confirming the rumors about her lineage, Martinez had drawn criticism from immigrant advocacy groups for such policies. Her acknowledgment last week only heightened the backlash, with critics saying her politics are hypocritical given her background.
With this slow growth of Latino Republicans comes a more conservative take on illegal immigration as well as new political calculations. Martinez won the gubernatorial election in 2010 despite losing the Hispanic vote.