by Nancy Sepulveda
I felt no pride when my home state of New Mexico elected the country’s first female Latino governor. Despite her camp boasting it as a victory for all Hispanics, I knew better – Susana Martinez was one Tejana whose progression would mean no gains for La Raza. Her surname may be Latino, and she may pencil in the “Hispanic” bubble on census forms, but her politics are all Republican (read: Anglo). No Wise Latina here.
She’s a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-immigrant politician who wants to re-instate the death penalty in New Mexico. She talks a good game, such as her recent address in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Day, while simultaneously introducing state legislation to hinder the progress of Hispanos.
On January 31, Martinez introduced Executive Order 2011-009, allowing state officials to question the immigration status of anybody arrested. It cites anybody arrested, but doesn’t require the person be convicted. In a perfect world, an innocent individual would never wind up in handcuffs. The reality isn’t so simple, and even a person wrongfully arrested and later exonerated of criminal charges would still be released to ICE custody. And then there are the bigoted, power-hungry cops (you know they exist) who would use this as an excuse to apprehend and question any brown person unlucky enough to, say, jaywalk in front of them.
Martinez then held a news conference to proclaim her stance to end NM driver licenses to undocumented immigrants. Granting such licenses invites illegal immigration, she said. Funny. I thought it ensured that the people behind the wheel on New Mexico streets had shown evidence of proper driving skills and the ability to obey traffic laws – making our streets safer.
Her hypocrisy can’t get any worse, right? The calling card of her election was her “commitment” to education for all. Yet she wants to rescind in-state tuition and access to the state-funded Lottery Scholarship currently accessible to undocumented students through SB 582.
The crowning insult, though, came during a Martinez interview with Latina magazine last year. When asked if she supports the Dream Act, her brilliant retort was, “Remind me…” How can a politician in a border state not know what the Dream Act is? After it was explained to her, Martinez replied, “Oh, yes, yes, yes…What I am concerned about is…are we excluding people that are in New Mexico who are in the military service…and are here legally and cannot receive that kind of funding to attend college because the funds are limited?”
Um, what? The DREAM act has nothing to do with receiving funding to attend college. Her remarks underscore not only her own embarrassing ignorance, but her inability to view immigration legislation through anything other than a lens intent on demonizing immigrants. When asked how she would differentiate between undocumented people who come here to commit crimes, and those who come here to work and better their families, Martinez retorted, “That has never been my focus as district attorney or as a candidate for governor.” No kidding.
Contributor, Nancy Sepulveda.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.