Listen to the Audio: Luna Olavarria Gallegos
Last Wednesday, March 9, 2011, New Mexico state senators met to discuss a bill on what has become a prominent issue in this state: the rights and autonomy of immigrants.The bill that was presented by the New Mexico House of Representatives, HB 78, was attempting to revoke the unique New Mexico statutory right of people without social security cards to obtain a drivers license. Ultimately, many amendments drastically transformed the bill.
Before the New Mexico Senate met, the proposed bill was extremely racist and unfair, but after they amended it, it ultimately looked like the one this state already had in place. There are a few changes between the new amended bill, and the 2003 bill. One difference requires an immigrant to have lived in New Mexico for at least six months, before being allowed a drivers license. I agree with this amendment because I do not want people to visit this state solely for the purpose of obtaining a driver’s license. When it comes to the purpose and desires of immigrants, an aspect that a lot of people do not understand is the not all foreign immigrants wish to take advantage of this wonderful country. When it comes down to it, people are people, no matter where they are from. Parents want their children to grow up in the best environment possible, and youth just want to be happy and live in a country that provides so many opportunities such as the United States. Many politicians around the nation disagree with this, making it very hard for many immigrants to live freely.
This controversial issue has caused so much conflict between many state leaders, and there have been many allegations on both sides of the issue, supporting the right to allow driver’s licenses to immigrants without social security cards, and denying them access to driver’s licenses. I think one of the most important ideas to remember is that, confiscating the right for undocumented immigrants to have drivers licenses raises not only the cost of insurance for everyone else, but it also puts a lot more uninsured people on the street, making the city environment much more dangerous and even harmful for all people in this state.
Another false accusation that I heard when listening to the Thursday morning call in show was that immigrants are bad guys, and words such as terrorists were thrown around to describe them. If a person who is in this country, whether born here or born somewhere else wants to do harm to anyone, a driver’s license will not further allow, him or her to achieve, his or her goal. The statement that we cannot allow undocumented people to have driver’s license because it will allow them to cause crimes, or kill people is completely illogical. A lot of politicians are making excuses like this to hide their racism and bias, when really, this country would not be the way it is today without immigrants.
As a leading world power, the United States has a responsibility to provide help to struggling countries such as Mexico. As a nation we are not assisting Mexico in their current crisis, and it is possible that we are contributing to it. Therefore, when Mexicans come to this country expecting to find a better life, we cannot continue to be cruel. Immigrants are not coming to this country to harass us, or terrorize us. They have come to enjoy freedom, autonomy, and a greater lifestyle, like so many people have in the past. As citizens, we can no longer allow our government to alienate immigrants, because when it comes down to it, we are all human beings, and we all deserve to life happily.
by: Luna Olavarria Gallegos