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ASUNM opposes license legislation

Large undocumented population at UNM deserve support, undergrad president says

The Associated Students of UNM unanimously passed Resolution 2S at last Wednesday’s senate meeting, declaring their support of the University’s undocumented immigrant students’ ability to get driver’s licenses, a privilege which may be revoked during the current legislative session.

Rachel Williams, president of the undergraduate student governing body, said that she strives to keep her positions very focused on UNM and the University’s various student populations. She said she advocates for anyone’s ability to get an education, which hinges on students providing identification.

“There is a large population of undocumented students that go to school here that contribute and are just trying to make a better life for themselves,” she said. “I want to support them in any way that I can.”

A driver’s license is the conventional way most students get a LoboCard, which, according to the LoboCard Office’s website, “is the single most important form of campus identification you can have,” allowing access to most of the University’s services and facilities. A passport or military ID may also be used to get a LoboCard, according to the website.

The resolution was created in light of Gov. Susana Martinez’s continuing efforts to revoke the licenses of undocumented immigrants in New Mexico, allowed by a state policy that was passed under Bill Richardson in 2003 when he was governor.

Martinez has attempted to repeal the policy before, but it is garnering more support this year following the November elections, which gave Republicans control of the House.

Sen. Udell Calzadillas Chavez said that opposing Martinez’s legislation is vital not only to the UNM community, but Albuquerque at large.

“We have kept pushing it back and it is a really good thing because it keeps families within the community so that they can actually be a part of the community and not in the shadows,” he said.

Himself an undocumented immigrant, Chavez urged his fellow senators to support the resolution during Wednesday’s meeting. Sen. Travis Gonzales called the legislation a “common-sense” resolution.

Several students attended the meeting to lobby for the resolution’s passing as well. Among them were members of UNM’s Dream Team, a student organization that “advocates for immigration reform and to increase access and success for immigrant students and families at the University.”

The Dream Team wrote up the resolution and Sen. Nadia Cabrera introduced it. Cabrera said this isn’t the first time this resolution has been passed by ASUNM.

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“I hope this shows a continued, unwavering support for all of UNM’s students, undocumented or otherwise,” Cabrera said. “I especially want students to feel that ASUNM stands with them in their struggles and that we are here to help in any way we can, both with and without legislation.”

Brittany Arneson, a senior sociology major, also spoke on behalf of undocumented immigrants at the meeting, saying that her experience working with undocumented youth has shown her that immigrants hold their ability to get an education in high regard. She said that undocumented students at UNM would be unable to continue their education should Martinez be successful.

“A huge aspect of education is being able to have the documents – driver’s licenses, student IDs – that enable them to get to the University,” Arneson said. “If we want to value education as a whole, we should be supporting this resolution.”

Chavez agreed, saying that the resolution is vital to preserving UNM’s diverse student population.

“I think it is a good step to preserving UNM’s culture of diversity,” he said. “It shows that UNM is very open to discussion and to accepting different kinds of people. It’s a step that we can use to improve those relations in the future.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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