SANTA FE — The governor signed an Executive Order last week that some lawmakers say mirrors Arizona’s immigration policies.
Gov. Susana Martinez issued a moratorium that will give police officers the right to question the immigration status of people being arrested.
“The criminal justice system should have the authority to determine the immigration status of all criminals, regardless of race or ethnicity, and report illegal immigrants who commit crimes to federal authorities,” she said in a statement.
Lawmakers called into question the order’s legality and attacked the governor’s position.
“We’re not Arizona,” said Sen. Eric Griego (D-Albuquerque). “This is New Mexico.”
A dozen legislators held a news conference to contest the order. Many said the governor’s decision is comparable to the SB 1070 immigration law passed in Arizona over the summer, which allows law enforcement to question immigration status during all arrests.
“To single out people and to force law enforcement to stop someone and ask about immigration status is un-American,” Griego said. “It’s unconstitutional, and it reeks of Arizona.”
Two bills have been introduced that would reverse the governor’s order. Senate bills 151 and 152 are moving forward after each bill received a recommendation from the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
The governor’s Executive Order says nothing about whether emergency responders can ask people about their immigration status when they call 911 or go to the emergency room. SB 151 adds language to the order to ensure this does not happen. Sen. Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Antonio Maestas (D-Albuquerque) sponsored the bill.
SB 152 would forbid law enforcement from arresting people solely based on immigration status. Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Española) sponsored the bill.
Martinez said she signed the order with New Mexicans’ safety in mind.
“Eighty-five percent of New Mexicans support my stance to make sure New Mexico is safe and secure from people who want to come here and cause harm,” she said.
Protecting farmers from genetically modified crops
A bill that would protect New Mexico farmers from lawsuits is making its way through the House of Representatives.
HB 46 would prevent farmers from liability for unintentional genetic modifications, which according to the bill can be caused by wind, insects, birds or other animals, or seed stock contamination.
Right now, farmers can be held liable if genetically modified crops are found on their land, even if they had no intention to grow genetically modified crops.
The House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee heard fiscal implications of House Bill 46 if it were passed. The committee determined defense costs of indicted farmers are unknown at this point.
HB 46, sponsored by Rep. Paul C. Bandy (R-Aztec), would protect both farmers and agriculture science centers from lawsuits, representatives at New Mexico State University said.