A study released Monday offers a new take on a now-old debate in the New Mexico legislature—driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The survey, published by the Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, finds that removing the state’s driver’s license law would cost the state jobs and money. More specifically, the study estimates that the state would lose $38.5 million each year, along with drops of 3 percentage points in labor participation and 1 percentage point in employment. The study examined a proposal pushed by House Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez over the past few years, though they are looking at a different proposal this year. “We’re looking at 1,400 jobs that are going to be vacant,” co-author Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba told NM Political Report.
New Mexico is once again the fourth-most dangerous state in the country, at least according to the latest yearly survey of violent crime by 24/7 Wall Street. The annual survey from the financial news website is based mainly from violent crime rates from the FBI 2014 Uniform Crime Report, which is the most comprehensive look at crime in the nation. It will be sure to fuel the effort from New Mexico Republican legislative leadership and Gov. Susana Martinez to pass “tough on crime” bills this upcoming legislative session. Republicans this session are supporting a tougher state “three strikes” law against violent repeat offenders, adding law enforcement officers as a protected class in the state’s Human Rights Act and increasing their pay. “The data clearly shows that violent crime in New Mexico is too high, and we need to do something about it,” State Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, said in a prepared statement from House Republicans.
If you’ve been reading 24/7 Wall St. recently, you’ll note that it doesn’t have much good to say about New Mexico. The New York financial news website is getting a lot of local attention for ranking New Mexico at the bottom of its annual Best and Worst Run States in America survey. But just how did the news organization come to its conclusions? Four researchers spent roughly four months gathering data to make the list, according to 24/7 Wall St.
While New Mexico’s poverty rate is slowly dropping, its still high enough to rank the second poorest state in the nation. And this year, the unthinkable nearly happened. As Stateline recently wrote, “New Mexico is close to overtaking Mississippi as the state with the highest percentage of its population living in poverty.” New Mexico’s poverty rate sits at 21.3 percent, just decimals behind Mississippi’s rate of 21.5 percent. Both are the only states to break above a 20 percent poverty rate.