SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Immigrant workers urged lawmakers on Wednesday to focus on improving New Mexico's economy rather than considering Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's proposal to stop the state from issuing driver's licenses to immigrants living in the country illegally.
Members of an immigrant rights group brought 5,000 petitions to the Capitol and planned to deliver them to lawmakers and the governor along with 100 plastic hard hats signed by immigrant oil field workers and more than 700 small milk cartons with photos of immigrant families.
"We are tired of being attacked, and we don't want to be the victim of political bullying anymore," Arturo Donlucas of Lovington, who's worked in a diary for 12 years, said at a news conference.
He spoke in Spanish and his comments were translated into English at what organizers billed as an "immigrant day of action" at the Capitol.
The governor's license proposal has failed in the Democratic-controlled Legislature since Martinez took office in 2011, but the governor wants lawmakers to again consider it during their 30-day session.
As Martinez has pushed to restrict licenses for immigrants in New Mexico, a growing number of other states are moving in the opposite direction.
Eight states, including California, Illinois, Nevada and Colorado, enacted laws last year to grant immigrants the privilege to drive. However, some of those states haven't started issuing licenses.
Unlike a New Mexico driver's license, the newly enacted driving privilege cards and licenses in other states can't be used for identification, such as boarding an airliner or entering a federal building
New Mexico and Washington have the broadest policies in the country because the same license granted to a U.S. citizen is available to immigrants, including those here illegally.