ISPAC Editorial: No Agenda Based on Collective Punishment is Worth Supporting

Governor Susana Martinez continues to refuse to cooperate on her overtly political agenda, eliminating driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and requiring mandatory retention of third graders not reading at grade level.

Republicans typically champion individual responsibility over collective punishment. However, Martinez’s agenda is solely based upon collective punishment.

Martinez turned down compromise bills last legislative session on both the driver’s license issue and third grade retention. The police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department has publicly gutted her argument that eliminating driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants improves public safety. The California legislature listed to Chief Beck and decided to grant driver’s licenses to potentially millions of illegal immigrants.

In 2007 and 2008, Jay McCleskey and Pat Rogers, two of Martinez’s most influential advisors, worked on a lawsuit against the Richardson Administration to try and stop the issuing of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. They failed.

Martinez, against all evidence that keeping people out of the shadows is much safer for everyone still seeks to redeem McCleskey and Rogers regardless of the consequences to the state. Tens of states including Texas will now issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in order to comply with the Dream Act.

Martinez is willing to punish all illegal immigrants including those that federal law says may legally work here. Collective punishment is the only way to describe her agenda.

Neither Martinez nor her education secretary designate Hanna Skandera have children in New Mexico public schools. They haven’t a clue as to what that is like to parent children through the ups and downs of education. Yet, both are seeking to end parents’ right to make critical decisions about their children’s education.

New Mexico is the only state in the country that has both an Indian Education Act and a Hispanic Education Act. Both acts call for parental involvement in major decisions effecting school children covered by those acts. Martinez and Skandera’s track record on minority education is quite poor, doesn’t seem bothered by violating both acts.

Skandera and Martinez often tout their support for charter schools and virtual learning, referring to them as options for parents. Yet, Martinez wants to punish all families by forcing children to be left back with no parental say in that decision. There is substantive evidence that shows leaving children back actually increases the likelihood that they will drop out of school.

Minority students are many times more likely to be left behind than Anglo students under mandatory retention. Yet, Martinez seeks to increase the likelihood that they will drop out of school. Martinez, again seeks collective punishment over individual responsibility.

No legislator, regardless of party, should support an agenda of collective punishment. Martinez must learn to compromise. If not her policies must be rejected.

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