Poll shows majority of New Mexicans favor licenses for undocumented immigrants


By Selena Hill (staff@latinpost.com)

First Posted: Jan 19, 2016


A new poll revealed that nearly 70 percent of New Mexicans do not support Gov. Susana Martinez’s proposal to take away driver’s licenses from undocumented immigrants.

According to a survey conducted by Latino Decisions released on Monday, 69 percent of registered voters in New Mexico said immigrants in the country illegally should be able to obtain a license, as long as those licenses cannot be used for federal purposes. On the other hand, only 27 percent of respondents opposed the idea of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The poll also showed that 56 percent support a two-tier license system that passed the state Senate last year, but was rejected in the House. Just 39 percent opposed that legislation.

Under the proposal, the state would have created two tiers of driver’s licenses, with one license valid for both federal purposes and driving, and the other only able to be used for driving. The proposal also would have made the state compliant with the Real ID law.

However, Martinez and House Republicans opposed the Senate compromise bill. The governor has been campaigning to repeal the immigrant driver’s license law.

At a news conference Monday, Gabriel Sanchez, research director for Latino Decisions, said the poll proves that New Mexicans are more accepting of immigrant-friendly policies.

“Here in New Mexico, unlike some of the narrative you see out there, New Mexicans are not in this punitive mindset toward immigrants,” Sanchez said at the New Mexico American Civil Liberties Union, reports KRQE. “They actually have a very level-headed approach to policy issues related to immigrants and immigration more broadly.”

Likewise, Democratic state Rep. Javier Martinez said the “poll confirms what we’ve known for years, and that is that the governor and their allies in the New Mexico state House are out of the mixture and they are at odds with what most New Mexicans want to do,” reports KOB 4.

“This is what New Mexico is all about,” said Catholic Bishops Conference spokesman Allen Sanchez. “I’m proud to hear that our New Mexicans are coming from a place of compassion, and compassion comes from a formed conscience.”

In response, the spokesman for the Governor’s Office released a statement late Monday afternoon attacking the poll results.

“Left-wing special interest groups might be able to trick a few gullible legislators with slanted poll questions that mischaracterize the issue,” spokesman Michael Lonergan said. “New Mexicans will not be so easily fooled if they try to continue giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, while making New Mexicans jump through special hoops to avoid having to use passports.”