Immigrant driver's license repeal meets opposition Sheriff: Immigrant families need to drive

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By Steve Terrell The New Mexican February 15, 2015 SANTA FE--Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia wants it known that despite anything said during a debate on the House floor this week, he does not support repealing the law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses.

Such claims were made during Thursday's debate on House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque.

"I've never been for repealing this law," Garcia told The New Mexican on Friday. "I support a compromise. ... Immigrants are going to drive. They need to take their children to school, to drive to work. I know a lot of immigrants. They're good, hardworking people."

And despite what many supporters of the bill say, the sheriff said, "This is not a public safety issue."

The House passed HB 32 by a vote of 39-29.

Pacheco, who is a former Albuquerque police officer, said during the debate that all 33 county sheriffs in the state supported the repeal. He also said that "all but one police chief" in the state supports it.

Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said during Thursday's debate on the bill that the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the sheriff's association, support repeal of the law.

"Nobody [from the association] ever called me about it," Garcia said. He said he'd been in contactFriday with another sheriff who also said he wasn't contacted by the association.

Jack Levick, executive director of the association, said Friday that the association endorsed HB 32 at its Jan. 20 meeting in Santa Fe.