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Friday, September 17, 2010

New Mexico and illegal immigrants

New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment

I found some interesting information this week about New Mexico’s attitude toward illegal immigration.

With longtime Democrat Bill Richardson as governor and a 2008 population of 895,000 Hispanics (45% of total residents), I figured The Land of Enchantment had to be sympathetic toward illegal immigration.

Also, with the availability of driver’s licenses for illegals and that Obama won New Mexico’s five electoral votes in 2008 by a 57% to 42% margin plus New Mexico’s voting record of going blue in four of the last five presidential elections, the state surely had to be a hotbed of welcome mats for those who arrive there illegally. Did I mention that Richardson is also of Hispanic descent? Yeah, he is.

It’s no wonder 100,000 illegal immigrants have hit the highway out of town in reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070 law. It looks like New Mexico is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Well, maybe not. According to a recent poll by the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico voters strongly disapprove of illegal immigrants being allowed to acquire driver’s licenses in their state by a 72% to 20%margin. 6% had mixed feelings, 2% didn’t know.

Also, a majority gives its approval to Arizona’s new immigration law. 53% approve, 35% disapprove, 7% have mixed feelings and 5% don’t know. In the Hispanic community, Arizona’s law was favored by 39% with 48% disapproving. Most of the disapproval was based on the feeling of a general dislike for Hispanics.

Professor Gabriel Sanchez of the University of New Mexico said that while voters in the state are not as much in favor of SB 1070 as the rest of the country, they are becoming more disenchanted with illegal immigrants.

Hispanic voters agreed with the majority on the driver’s license policy as 67% opposed it. They also supported the city of Albuquerque’s policy of checking immigrant status of anyone who is arrested with 79% approving. That sounds like they are members of Secure Communities.

Who would have thought those numbers would appear in New Mexico? Gomer Pyle probably would have said his trademark, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

What happens now for the illegal population if New Mexico doesn’t welcome them? Oregon and Utah will issue driver’s licenses to non American citizens so I guess for illegal immigrants it time to pack up, head to those states, and hope for the best.

To leave a comment or to read 59 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blogs" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAliister writes for the Arizona Republic.

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