Round 5: Debate starts again on driver's license bill

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By Milan Simonich The Santa Fe New Mexican January 28, 2014 - State Rep. Paul Pacheco is again carrying the governor's bill to repeal a law that enables people without proof of immigration status to obtain a New Mexico driver's license.

Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, is a retired police officer. In a recent interview, he said he believed his bill could win approval in the House of Representatives but may not advance in the Senate.

Gov. Susana Martinez for years has said the licensing law is dangerous because it weakens border security and leads to fraud at motor vehicle field offices.

This is the fifth time a repeal bill has been introduced by a House Republican since Martinez took office in January 2011.

A version of Pacheco's bill has been offered in all four regular legislative sessions and during one special session.

All of them failed, though the bills cleared the House of Representatives in 2011 and '12. The measures died in the Senate both times.

Those who want to keep the licensing law will rally Wednesday at the state Capitol.
 
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant organization, is leading the effort to retain the law. It says immigrant workers and their families from the southeastern part of the state will be at the Capitol.
 
They work on farms, dairies and the oil and gas industries, said Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. 
  
Diaz said the workers plan to deliver hundreds of personalized milk cartons, hard hats and petitions to legislators to remind them of the important contributions they make to New Mexico's economy.