Commissioners oppose licenses, ID’s for illegals

At the Roosevelt County Commission meeting Tuesday morning at Roosevelt County Courthouse, commissioners:

• Approved a resolution supporting the discontinuation of issuing driver licenses and identification cards to illegal immigrants. Commissioner Jake Lopez voted against the resolution, while Commissioners Kendall Buzard, David Sanders and Bill Cathey voted for it. Commissioner Scott Burton was absent.

Lopez said illegal immigrants would drive whether or not they had a license, and he didn’t think they would be able to get insurance without it. He also said he didn’t mind if legislators stopped issuing the licenses, but he didn’t want to be part of it.

Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Malin Parker said illegal immigrants getting driver licenses was a “huge safety issue.” The requirements for them to get a license are much less strict than for a citizen, he said, and violent criminals could easily get licenses under a false name with forged documents.

Parker also said law enforcement in neighboring states had started looking more closely at New Mexico driver licenses because they were issued to undocumented immigrants.

Dr. Max Torres said the problem is businesses that hire illegal immigrants, and limiting the immigrants would hurt the area economy. He also said clinics and hospitals needed identification to track people when they came in for treatment, and U.S. identification is the easiest to use.

Cathey said he had to show several pieces of identification and proof of residency to get his commercial driver license, and he didn’t want to give licenses to illegal immigrants.

• Heard lobbyist Michael Miller say Roosevelt County could request “coordination” with the federal government in the issue of the possible listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered.

In the process, he said, the county would send a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, and federal representatives would have to meet face-to-face with county officials to listen to their concerns, including economic impact. The public, including environmental groups, could attend the meeting but not participate.

Miller said the meetings would be recorded for use in the listing decision.

• Voted to implement the coordination.

• Approved new voting precincts. Deputy County Clerk Linda Connelly said the boundaries are the same as the school districts’, and the precincts have been consolidated from 21 to 18.

• Approved an agreement between the county and the state Department of Health for the department to reimburse the county $1,000 a month for janitorial services for the Public Health Office. The county must provide and maintain the office.

• Heard new County Assessor Evelyn Ledbetter say she had appointed Kenner Carrasco as deputy assessor. She was also planning to review of the cost, benefits and ease of switching to new software for the assessor’s and treasurer’s offices.

• Approved about $54,960 in indigent health care claims.

• Heard Parker say the sheriff’s office had identified people tearing up oil field electrical boxes and selling the parts and had seen a decrease in thefts. He also said the office was getting a tracking and narcotics dog.

• Heard Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator David Casanova say the average daily jail population in May was 92 inmates. He also said he was planning to replace the deteriorating doors in the detention center.

• Heard County Manager Charlene Hardin say Magistrate Court leaders wanted out of their lease and building when the lease expires next June. A meeting with them was scheduled for June 27.

• Heard Lopez say Elida was allotted $400,000 of Community Development Block Grant money for a senior center and Portales received $427,000 for roads.

• Heard Torres say he lives on Roosevelt Road 2 1/2, which dead ends, and no one uses the street but his family. He asked the commission to make the road private and said he would maintain it. Sanders said the commission would start the process for possible road closure.

Compiled by PNT Senior Writer Argen Duncan.