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Editorial: Put Licenses, Retention To Floor Votes Already

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Another legislative session, another chance for New Mexico’s duly elected representatives and senators to show the courage of their convictions. Let’s hope they seize it.

Because the state’s taxpayers and voters don’t need another three and a half weeks of Immigrant Driver’s Licenses 2.0 or 3rd-Grade Retention Redux. What they do need is to know where their lawmakers stand.

So are they in favor of remaining one of only two states that issue state of-the-art government IDs to illegal immigrants? Are they in favor of continuing to set students up to fail by passing them from third to fourth grade when they can’t read? Have they been listening to the extensive debates of the last year?

Since a 2003 law allowing the licenses, New Mexico has become the vacation destination for illegal immigrants willing to pay thousands to people who will help them illegally acquire one. Last week Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker presided over the sentencing of a guy caught ferrying Polish immigrants to the Las Cruces MVD and said the case “demonstrates why it is unreasonable for the state of New Mexico to authorize the issuance of driver’s licenses to people who are unlawfully in the United States.”

Issuing the licenses has not reduced the number of uninsured drivers, and the practice has the state in violation of the federal Real ID Act, which takes effect next January. A clear majority of New Mexicans — 72 percent surveyed — are against it.

As for Martinez’s renewed push to require third-graders be able to read at grade level before being advanced to fourth grade, her new plan, similar to her old plan, includes four years of testing, diagnosing, intervening and remediating so that reading is the focus and retention is truly the last resort.

Immigrant licenses and third-grade retention have been discussed extensively. It’s important for lawmakers to move forward with votes in this short session so taxpayers and voters know where all their lawmakers stand on the issues — before time runs out.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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