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Immigrant Families Speak Out On Real ID Debate, Vigils Planned Through Monday

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  Commentary:  Hundreds of immigrant families across New Mexico are speaking out this week in a series of vigils calling on legislators to pass a non-discriminatory driver's license policy that complies with the REAL ID Act. Tonight vigils will take place in Santa Fe and Clovis, with more tomorrow evening in Hobbs and Española, ending with a vigil in Los Lunas on Monday.

"The REAL ID Act does NOT require nor encourage states to brand immigrants with a discriminatory driver's permit, as some legislators and the Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board want people to believe," said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "A driver's permit would stigmatize people based on their ethnicity and national origin. It is unnecessary, xenophobic, and anti-Latino." 

In October, the embattled New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla failed to obtain an extension from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for New Mexico to comply with the federal Real ID Act,  resulting in a flood of misinformation and a specious attempt by Governor Martinez to blame immigrants the state's non-compliance.

Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans came together earlier this year to support a bipartisan compromise that would have made New Mexico compliant with the Real ID Act without discriminating against immigrants or forcing them to drive without a license. This  legislation was sponsored by Senator Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) and Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Deming), but was publicly rejected by Governor Martinez. 

"We are tired of being scapegoated and used by opportunistic politicians nationally and locally," said Leopoldo Mendez, a fifteen year resident of Clovis who is organizing a vigil on Friday. "We know that legislators can implement the Real ID Act without targeting our families and discriminating against our children. We pray legislators follow the lead of my senator, Stuart Ingle, who has given New Mexico an alternative that preserves our dignity and rejects the politics of hate."

Francisco González, a dairy worker who has two New Mexican children, said at a vigil held last week in front of the Roosevelt County Court House: "My children were born and raised in this state. They were taught in school that discrimination is wrong.  Our leaders have the opportunity to be a beacon and show the country what real New Mexican values are."  

License proposals have real consequences for New Mexican families. 

"In Farmington, requiring me to carry a driver's permit marked with my immigration status would mean certain deportation and separation from my children," said Sergio Herrera, an immigrant activist and oil and gas worker in San Juan County. "The local sheriff routinely turns over immigrant residents to the federal immigration official who has a permanent presence here. All we need is five courageous House members to stand up for what is right and make this issue a thing of the past."   

The vigils kick off a number of actions organized by Somos Un Pueblo Unido leading up to the legislative session in January. The vigils are co-sponsored by dozens of churches throughout the state, as well as the New Mexico Catholic Conference of Bishops.  

Vigils:

Friday, December 18th at 6pm

In front of the Courthouse

Clovis, NM

Friday, December 18th at 6pm

In front of the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe  

100 S. Guadalupe St.  

Santa Fe, NM

Saturday, December 19th at 6pm

In front of the Republican Headquarters

1776 N.Turner St.  

Hobbs, NM

Saturday, December 19th a 5:30pm

La Plaza de Española

706 E. Bond St, Española, NM 87532 

Española, NM

Monday, December 21st at 6pm

Corner of Luna & Main St. 

Los Lunas, NM