Democrats oppose Martinez’s order to question immigration status

Posted on: February 4th, 2011 by Rich 1 Comment

Democratic legislatures showed opposition to an executive order by Gov. Susana Martinez that orders police to question the immigration status of all criminal suspects. Democratic legislators from the House and Senate held a press conference on Thursday criticizing the executive order, saying it would lead to racial profiling against Hispanics.

“I know we are in America but are we in New Mexico or Arizona?” Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana, asked at the press conference. Garcia said that her father had once been questioned by federal authorities while working on his southern New Mexico farm.

“The executive order undermines community policing efforts and creates barriers for immigrants and mixed status families to contact the police and serve as witnesses in the criminal justice system,” said Senator Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, in a press release.

Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, was concerned that the order would frighten women away from reporting domestic violence. According to Maestas, a former prosecutor, said that in cases of domestic violence police can consider both people suspects in the crime.

“The Governor’s Executive Order is a step backward in the fight against domestic violence. It will empower abusers who will now use the fear of immigration consequences to further control their victims — thus convincing victims to not report acts of domestic violence to local law enforcement,” said Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Bernalillo County.

Democrats also wondered about the language of the order. While Martinez’s administration has said that it will only apply to those who are arrested. The executive order says, “State law enforcement officers shall inquire into the criminal suspect’s immigration status, and report relevant information to federal immigration enforcement authorities.”

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