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Thursday, December 18, 2014

ASUNM Debates Rights

assistant-news@dailylobo.com
@ChloeHenson5

Another body of student government at UNM has decided to lend their support to undocumented students at the University.

The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico passed a resolution that supports the, “rights of all undergraduate students at the University of New Mexico to apply for and obtain a state-issued drivers’ license.”

ASUNM Sen. Jenna Hagengruber — who co-sponsored the bill — said she stands behind the resolution because she believes all students at UNM, including those who are undocumented, deserve the same opportunities.

“(Undocumented students) deserve an education,” she said. “And if they’re working towards that education, and they’re trying to live their lives as best they can, they deserve to be able to drive to and from school. They deserve to prove that they are in existence, and that they are humans. We all deserve the same rights.”

ASUNM Sen. Liliana Benitez De Luna, the UNM Dream Team, MEChA de UNM, Students Organizing Actions for Peace, Mexican Student Association and other organizations also introduced the resolution.

The Graduate and Professional Student Association passed a similar resolution last Saturday.

According to a previous article by the Daily Lobo, on Jan. 17, New Mexico Rep. Paul Pacheco, a Republican representing Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties, introduced House Bill 127, which would create a two-tiered driver’s license system.

The proposed bill would require two licenses to be issued, one for New Mexico residents that could be used for, “official federal purposes,” and another that would not be accepted by federal agencies for such purposes.

Gov. Susana Martinez is planning to attempt a repeal of the 2003 law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, according to an article by the Albuquerque Journal.

Martinez said the law has made New Mexico, “a magnet for identification fraud,” according to the article. She has created a petition on join.susanamartinez.com to repeal the 2003 license law.

The ASUNM resolution passed with two dissenting votes from Sen. Colt Balok and Sen. Katelynn Thornton.

During discussion, Balok expressed concern about the implications of the resolution to the proliferation of, “illegal immigrants.”
“I feel like giving driver’s licenses is just another incentive for people to cross the border illegally,” he said.

Instead, Balok said he supported passing a resolution that would advocate making it easier for immigrants to come to America legally.

Hagengruber said while some people at UNM may not support granting her resolution, she feels it is her job as a senator to represent people who do not have a voice.

“I feel that although there are always going to be people that oppose it, we have to look at the people who are coming to speak to us, who are asking for our help,” she said. “I ran for senate because I love UNM. There’s nothing more that I love than to support our students.”