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Governor Martinez: Public Safety Should Be Top Priority

Heath Haussamen
New Mexico In Depth

Governor Susana Martinez delivered her State of the State address to lawmakers on the opening day of the 2016 legislative session Tuesday.

Martinez said cracking down on crime is her top priority. She pointed to fatal shootings of police officers and crimes committed by “boomerang thugs” who’ve been in and out of jail.

“Our laws are too lax,” Martinez said, “our justice system too weak, particularly when it comes to violent, dangerous offenders. It’s our job to fix it, and there’s a lot we can do.”

Martinez called for a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to keep the most dangerous criminals in jail without bail and said money should be prioritized to hire new state police officers and increase salaries for public safety workers. Martinez also talked about boosting the number of child abuse caseworkers.

The two-term Republican called again for lawmakers to ban the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and said giving licenses to people who are in the U.S. illegally makes New Mexico a target for human traffickers and smugglers.

Martinez told lawmakers the current system is a form of preferential treatment and called on them to vote to end the practice.

“We’ve talked about it year after year,” Martinez said. “The discussion has been had. It’s time to solve this problem and vote.”

Martinez said it is the will of New Mexicans to eliminate licenses for undocumented people.

However, a recent poll commissioned by immigration advocates found that 69 percent of registered voters in New Mexico support the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants even if those ID’s are not valid for federal purposes. This year’s 30-day legislative ends Febuary 18, 2016.

You can listen to the full speech and analysis courtesy of New Mexico PBS/KNME TV Channel 5.