SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez directed state police on Monday to start asking about the immigration status of people arrested for crimes.
The executive order by Martinez rescinds a policy implemented in 2005 by then Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.
Richardson's executive order prohibited state law enforcement from asking about a person's immigration status only for the purpose of determining whether the individual was in violation of federal immigration laws.
"This order takes the handcuffs off of New Mexico's law enforcement officers in their mission to keep our communities safe," Martinez said in a statement. "The criminal justice system should have the authority to determine the immigration status of all criminals, regardless of race or ethnicity, and report illegal immigrants who commit crimes to federal authorities."
However, Martinez said law enforcement working for state agencies will continue to be barred from asking about the immigration status of someone who is a crime victim, a witness to a crime or seeking police assistance. Richardson had ordered that in 2005.
Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Martinez, said state police will not ask about immigration status of motorists stopped for traffic violations such as speeding. The administration's policy applies only when someone is arrested for a crime, he said.
Martinez's policy drew criticism from a civil rights group.
"This executive order invites racial profiling by giving an incentive to police to arrest people who look and sound 'foreign.' New Mexicans should not have to fear that a broken taillight or other pretextual stop will lead to their arrest because of the color of their skin," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico.
Before her election as governor, Martinez was district attorney in Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico.
During last year's gubernatorial campaign, Martinez criticized Richardson for having a "sanctuary" policy on illegal immigration. Martinez also has said she wants to repeal a state law enacted during Richardson's tenure that allows driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.Tags: