A recent Albuquerque Journal poll found that 75% of New Mexicans are opposed to the present state policy of allowing illegal aliens to get full-fledged driver's licenses. [Journal Poll: Thumbs down on licenses for immigrants here illegally, By Deborah Baker, September 22, 2014]
This certainly indicates that New Mexicans are opposed to making things easy for illegal aliens. Driver's licenses for illegal aliens are like a gateway drug—they lead on to stronger stuff, making it easy for illegals to move on to other states, get jobs, gain an illegal foothold in society, and commit fraud. Governor Martinez said that the ability to get driver's licenses makes the state a "magnet for illegal immigrants."
So if the public is opposed to enabling illegal aliens, why are so many Republicans making noises about a "pathway to citizenship"—a euphemism for amnesty in spite of their denials? An obvious answer is that they don't want to offend Hispanics in the hope of gaining Hispanic votes.
Perhaps New Mexico is not a typical state and is full of right-wing, Republican, non-Hispanics? Yes, New Mexico is not typical—in fact it is the most Hispanic state in the country—a majority-minority state in which non-Hispanic whites make up only 41% of the population. And although 90% of Republicans in New Mexico oppose licenses for illegal aliens, so do 75% of independents and even 64% of Democrats.
As for offending Hispanics, 73% of Hispanics polled objected to providing licenses to illegal aliens.
Another way in which New Mexico is not typical is that while the northern part of the state is heavily Hispanic, they are not illegal aliens from Mexico. In fact, if you want to get yourself into big trouble up there, try calling a local a "Mexican."
If you are still alive, they are likely to explain that they are descendants of Spanish colonists and don't even speak the kind of Spanish spoken in Mexico. And they consider themselves white: I remember a Hispanic woman telling me, "My birth certificate says 'white' and I am white." Indeed, a friend who was born in New Mexico recalls meeting Hispanics there with blond hair.
Southern New Mexico was sparsely inhabited under Mexican rule because the Mexicans could not handle the hostile Apaches. After Americans subdued the Apaches, the way was paved for Mexican immigration so that is the part of the state that has a heavy Mexican population. But the same poll found that even in south and southwest New Mexico, 72% opposed licenses for illegals.
It makes one wonder what makes Republicans reluctant to run on making things hard on illegals. It has been a long time since I heard any talk of attrition through enforcement or "self-deportation" as Romney put it before pandering to the cheap labor lobby with a promise of getting immigration reform done in his first year.
I suspect it isn't Hispanic voters Republicans are worried about offending but rather the big donors in the treasonous US Chamber of Commerce and others of that ilk. But if Republican candidates keep on promising some kind of pathway to citizenship instead of deportation, they have about as much chance of becoming president as McCain and Romney.