CAPITOL BUILDING, SANTA FE--Governor Martinez can’t get those driver’s licenses out of her mind. Not only is it basically a political issue for her, it seems to be an issue aimed at an audience that resides mostly out of state...and votes in national tea party conferences. Meanwhile, here in our Land of Enchantment, Representative Miguel P. Garcia rose to address the NM House Friday afternoon.
He talked a little about the Governor and the fear of thousands of “illegal terrorists” descending upon our beautiful state with the object of getting a New Mexico driver’s license. He was holding a piece of paper. This is what it said:
“Here is the testimony of one of South Valley Academy’s graduating seniors, who is undocumented (anonymous).
‘A person is a person no matter where they come from. Coming from an undocumented family sometimes makes me think that I am somehow less human than others, even though I work hard in school, my parents make an honest living every day, and I plan to go to college. I drive to school, I drive to church, and I drive to work. I pay taxes. I obey the laws. I get good grades. I have car insurance. By having a license, I can still work and go to school in this state that has been my home since I was a baby. All I ask is that you allow me to keep my license so that I can continue to be a positive contribution to my family and community. I promise I won’t let you down--please don’t let me and thousands of other New Mexicans down the way the Governor would want you to. Thank you.’
Rep. Garcia serves the Atrisco area of Albuquerque’s south valley. He is a former schoolteacher, having taught at Armijo, Longfellow, Los Padillas, and Carlos Rey elementary schools in APS. I talked with him in the Roundhouse hallway. “Former first and second graders now come up to me at the store and in church,” he said to me. “For me to turn my back on those kids would be treacherous. Many are pursuing college degrees or developing their skills in the trades. They make big contributions to our society.”
Somehow the big contributions of people “without documents” and their offspring brings to mind the Governor’s recently highlighted revelation that her own grandfather was a person “without documents.” The irony of her views on driver’s licenses and her own family history has already made the national press, including the Huffington Post. And now even the Catholic Church has lined up against her on this issue.
Representative Miguel P. Garcia isn’t concerned about that. He thinks about his former students. “A driver’s license is key to them,” he continued. “And not just for getting around. They need one for an ID...for a loan, for all kinds of applications, for a library card, all kinds of things.”
And somewhere, driving between her part-time job and school, is a bright young lady in Albuquerque’s south valley. She has lived here since a baby. Will she or her future child rise up to be Governor herself...like Susana Martinez? Or are we so wrapped up in straight-jacket politics that this young life could never be as important as a distant but demanding ideology.