Roosevelt County commissioners who supported the resolution to change the law that allows immigrants to get a driver’s license undermine our cherished values of equality and fairness.
In the last legislative session, the senate decided to keep driver’s licenses for immigrants because it was the right thing to do. Religious leaders and people of faith from different dominations and traditions came together in support of the immigrant community because they understood that the driver’s license issue had more to do with Gov. Susanna Martinez’s political agenda than protecting public safety.
Arguments against the current law cast immigrants as criminals, accusing them of fraud or worse in order to dehumanize them and strip them of their basic human dignity. The process is just as rigorous in terms of passing a driving test and providing proof of identity and residency as it is for citizens. In addition, these applications go through the fraud investigations department where all the documents are thoroughly checked and verified. Immigrants also have to make an appointment and wait up to six months to receive a driver’s license.
Our communities are more secure when everyone on the road is licensed and residents can be tracked through the MVD database. It is simply unethical for a law enforcement officer who uses this database to do his job to misinform the public on this issue and to support making immigrants invisible and therefore, unaccountable to our laws.
We, as people of conscience, need to stand on the side of what is moral and what is right by treating all people, no matter what their immigration status is, with fairness and respect. Unfortunately, our elected officials have failed to see beyond politics and are playing into the hands of fear and intolerance. Our community is better than this.