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Posts tagged ‘New Mexico’

States Buck Public Opinion, Offer Driver’s Licenses to Illegals.


Nevada has become the latest state to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license — even as public opinion polls show that the great majority of Americans oppose such measures.
A national poll conducted in October by Rasmussen Reports found that 68 percent of likely U.S. voters think illegal immigrants should not be allowed to obtain state driver’s licenses. Just 22 percent favor licenses for illegals in their state.
Critics say the laws encourage illegal immigration by legitimizing the status of those who come to the United States illegally.

“It is a kind of amnesty. It doesn’t given them any legal status, but by giving them a government-issued ID, it helps them imbed in society,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.,  said in an interview with Newsmax.

“This is a way of protecting illegals from coming to the attention of immigration authorities,” Krikorian said. “It’s a way of documenting the undocumented.”
In Nevada, Democratic-led lawmakers approved a driver’s license law in 2013. It was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor, who considers it a public safety measure, and went into effect at the beginning of this month.

“Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s privilege card will increase the number of drivers on Nevada’s roads that are insured and aware of traffic rules and regulations,” Sandoval said in a statement after signing the bill.

When Nevada began issuing licenses on Jan. 2, long lines formed at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Las Vegas, waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the office. The Associated Press reported that “thousands of Nevada immigrants” sought to obtain licenses on the first day.

Those applying for the driving privilege cards must show some proof of their identity as well as evidence of Nevada residency and insurance. New drivers must pass a driving test, and pay to retake the test if they fail.

The information provided for the licenses, however, may not be used against them for purposes of enforcing immigration laws, a key provision in a state like Nevada where about a fourth of all residents are Latino.

Other states that have approved similar laws include Utah, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, California, New Mexico, and Illinois, along with the District of Columbia.
Said California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, in signing his state’s law last year: “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the State of California.”

The climate of permissiveness licenses for illegals follows a crackdown period after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacksthat came in response to widespread fears of foreign-born terrorists entering the country.

“After 9-11, things were tightening up. Now those states that are mainly run by Democrats are backtracking,” said Krikorian, noting that Congress has given leeway through the REAL ID law to states to issue immigrant driver’s cards, but those cannot be used for federal identification purposes like boarding planes.
New Mexico, with the nation’s largest Hispanic population, is one state attempting to buck the trend. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is hoping to convince the Democratic-led state legislature to repeal the state’s current law, which offers licenses to illegals.She has tried before and failed, but vows to continue.
Polling shows that Martinez has support for her position, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., a New Mexico firm that has polled for the Albuquerque Journal twice on the issue.

“Both times, the polls that we did for the Journal showed approximately 70 percent of registered voters opposed granting licenses to undocumented workers,” Sanderoff told Newsmax.

“I think it’s a significant issue to the extent that the governor is once again latching onto it,” he said.

New Mexico differs from its heavily Hispanic neighbor Arizona, where its governor, Republican Jan Brewer, has taken an aggressive stance against illegals in her state. In New Mexico, most Hispanic residents are natives, tracing their lineage back to Spain, said Sanderoff.

“Most New Mexicans are Americans, born and raised here, more so than the average state,” he said, which likely explains why voters there oppose the law by a wide margin.

The trend could continue as Congress renews its debate on immigration reform this year and proponents continue to push for the measure in more states.

“The push for it is nationally coordinated,” Krikorian said. “There is a broader push by national groups to have more say in the issue. They see it in two ways. First, as a practical matter, it helps to imbed the illegal immigrants in the U.S., making it less likely they will leave. Also, it will be presented as evidence of nationwide momentum for immigration ‘reform.'”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Andrea Billups

Christian Photog Who Refused to Shoot Gay Wedding Finds Widespread Support.


Elaine Hugueni
Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, N.M., is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her compelled speech case.
Prominent libertarian supporters of redefining marriage are among the parties that filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court Friday in support of a New Mexico photographer who declined to use her artistic expression to communicate the story of a same-sex ceremony. Also supporting the photographer in the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) case are 18 other professionals in her industry and attorneys general from eight states.In August, a concurrence accompanying the New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling against Elane Photography said that the owners, Jon and Elaine Huguenin, must abandon their freedom as “the price of citizenship.” Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to review the case.

“The First Amendment protects our freedom to speak or not speak on any issue without fear of government retaliation,” says ADF senior counsel Jordan Lorence. “All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force citizens—under threat of punishment—to express ideas against their will. As those who filed supportive briefs in this case understand, a government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions is a government every American should fear.”

The Cato Institute and legal scholars Dale Carpenter and Eugene Volokh filed one of the friend-of-the-court briefs. Wedding photographers from across the country and state attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia filed the other two briefs.

The petition Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 8 explains that the Huguenins “will serve anyone; they do not turn away any customers because of their protected class status. But they will decline a request, as the First Amendment guarantees them the right to do, if the context would require them to express messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.”

A July Rasmussen poll found that 85 percent of Americans believe a Christian photographer has the right to say no if asked to take pictures at a same-sex ceremony that conflicts with the photographer’s religious beliefs. The editorial boards of both The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Times have recently agreed.

In 2006, Huguenin declined Vanessa Willock’s request to photograph a commitment ceremony between Willock and another woman. Huguenin declined the request because her and her husband’s Christian beliefs conflict with the message communicated by the expressive event, which Willock asked Huguenin to help her “celebrate.”

Willock easily found another photographer for her ceremony, and for less money, but nevertheless filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission against Elane Photography. After a one-day trial, the commission ruled against the Huguenins and ordered them to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees to Willock. The case then made its way through the New Mexico state court system as Elane Photography v. Willock.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Bill Richardson Admits: I Screwed Up on Alan Gross Detainment.


Image: Bill Richardson Admits: I Screwed Up on Alan Gross Detainment

Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson has admitted to Newsmax that he “screwed up” in his 2011 bid to free American Alan Gross, who has been held in a Cuban prison for four years.

He spoke to the press when it would have been better for him to keep quiet, he said on Newsmax TV‘s “Steve Malzberg Show.”

“I screwed that one up,” Richardson said.

“I thought we had a deal. I went in and talked to the Cubans. The Cubans were changing their policy at the last minute.

Story continues below video.

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“Instead of shutting up and waiting for things to calm down, I was in Havana and I went to the press. I said ‘Alan Gross is a political prisoner, [and] the Cubans are not playing straight.'”

Richardson, Bill Clinton’s U.N. ambassador from 1997-98 and later energy secretary and governor of New Mexico, is the author of a new book, How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator.”

The book, he said, points out his successes, but in Gross’s case, he admits he made a mistake.

“The Cubans just dropped me off and I just wasn’t able to get Alan out.”

Richardson says he learned an important lesson: “Sometimes you can’t go public, you can’t show your emotion,” Richardson told Malzberg. “You’ve got to be very restrained and careful when you’re negotiating.”

And, he said, he’ll “always regret” going the press over Gross, rather than remaining quiet, “even though there have been many others trying to get Alan out.”

He said he feels “a lot for [his wife] Judy Gross. I met her, I talked to her. I mean, her husband has been unfairly incarcerated, but I wish I hadn’t lost my cool.”

At the time, Richardson said, he had not “been in negotiation in a while, and I was no longer governor, so I kind of lost my power base.”

Gross, 64, was working in Cuba as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, and charged with “actions against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”

The Cuban government accused Gross of spying for carrying telecommunications equipment to the island and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. According to Gross, he was contracted by Development Alternatives Inc., as part of a contract with USAID, to establish wireless networks and Internet connections for non-dissident Cuban Jewish communities.

Cuba state prosecutors, though, accused him of performing a “subversive project aiming at bringing down the revolution” by disseminating distorted information about the government.

Gross wrote a personal letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment.

Judy Gross told Malzberg on Wednesday that her husband feels “abandoned” by the United States.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“My hope is that the government is able to sit down and start talks and negotiate with the Cuban government,” she told Malzberg. “That’s how you start getting things done. You have to sit down sometime and start dialogue.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Texas to Impose Tougher Rules on Obamacare Navigators.


The Texas Department of Insurance wants Obamacare “navigators” in the state to pass a 64-page set of standards in order to be licensed to help residents sign up for healthcare coverage.

Texas Insurance Commissioner Juli Rathgeber proposed Tuesday that navigators prove their citizenship or employment eligibility, undergo background checks, and show financial responsibility, reports The Washington Post.

“In Texas, we are being vigilant about safeguarding privacy and keeping personal information out of the wrong hands,” said Rathgeber. “These proposed rules address insufficiencies in federal regulations and make the training and qualifications of navigators in our state more readily apparent to consumers and service providers.”

The proposed rules also would make prospective navigators go through 40 hours of coursework to learn more about state’s Medicaid and privacy standards and to show proof of training. The state also want ensure that navigators are not permitted to charge for services or push any specific insurance plans.

In addition, the Texas proposal would also prohibit navigators from offering advice on benefits or from comparing different plans for consumers.

A public hearing will be held on Dec. 20 and the rules will go into effect after a public commentary period ends on Jan. 6. The Post reports that Texas has about 200 navigators who are primarily charged with helping the uninsured enroll in Obamacare.

The Obama administration and Supporters of the healthcare law claimed the state’s proposals would only increase costs and slow down the application process for insurance coverage. They all but accused Texas officials of simply trying disrupt the federal effort to help the uninsured.

“This is an attempt to add cumbersome requirements to the navigator program and deter groups from working to enroll Americans in coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace,” Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told the Post. “The navigator program is similar to Medicare counselors, which have existed for years and never faced this kind of scrutiny from Texas.”

Under federal law, navigators already go through training on various health plans, privacy and security standards, as well as Obamacare eligibility requirements. But at least 16 states, including Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia have enacted additional requirements and regulations governing how Obamacare navigators do their jobs.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

‘It is the Price of Citizenship’? An Elegy for Religious Liberty in America.


'It is the Price of Citizenship'? An Elegy for Religious Liberty in America

Anyone who still doubts that the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage will represent a seismic shift in the culture at large needs only to look to New Mexico to see that nothing less than religious liberty is now under threat — and in a big way.

Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are the owners of Elane Photography, a firm that operates as a commercial photographic studio. Elaine is the lead photographer and the Huguenins together run the business. In 2006, the couple refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony and were sued. Last week the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the Huguenins had violated the human rights of the same-sex couple and that the First Amendment does not allow Elane Photography to refuse to photograph same-sex unions.

The court’s decision was unanimous, upholding a 2012 decision by an appeals court. The court’s decision declared that the Huguenins had acted unlawfully in refusing to photograph the same-sex commitment, even when Elaine Huguenin had argued that to force her to photograph the celebration of a same-sex ceremony was to force her to function as a celebrant and thereby to violate her own conscience. That last part of the Huguenin’s argument has to do with the fact that photography is “expressive” as an art form. There is no way that photographing a same-sex ceremony would not require the professional photographer to arrange and construct photographs in order to artistically celebrate the same-sex union.

The court concluded: “When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA [New Mexico Human Rights Act] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.” The court then further concluded: “Even if the services it offers are creative or expressive, Elane Photography must offer its services to customers without regard for the customers’ race, sex, sexual orientation, or other protected classification.”

Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are Christians who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and a woman. They further believe that they are responsible and faithful only if they avoid any explicit or implied endorsement of same-sex marriage. They insisted that they do not discriminate on the basis of the sexual orientation of the potential client, but only on the basis of the ceremony they are asked to photograph.

The New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed all of the arguments presented on behalf of the Huguenins — arguments that have a very clear precedent in decisions by other courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. The decision in this case by this court is both stark and strident, rejecting the reality that its holding forces a wedding photographer to make an artistic statement against a religious sentiment by supporting certain celebrations that the photographer in fact does not support.

The court’s ruling sets a very dangerous precedent: “If a commercial photography business believes that the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] stifles its creativity, it can remain in business, but it can cease to offer its services to the public at large. Elane Photography’s choice to offer its services to the public is a business decision, not a decision about its freedom of speech.”

A business decision, but not a decision about freedom of speech? The New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling points to the comprehensive scope of the moral and legal realignment likely required by same-sex marriage — and eagerly demanded by its proponents. The addition of sexual orientation as a denominator of a protected class was sufficient to drag the Huguenins before a court in a state that itself does not legally recognize same-sex marriage.

The most amazing language found in the decision of the New Mexico court is not in the main opinion but in the “specially concurring” opinion of Justice Richard C. Bosson.

Although Justice Bosson concurred with the decision against them, he seemed to understand the plight of the Huguenins:

As devout, practicing Christians, they believe, as a matter of faith, that certain commands of the Bible are not left open to secular interpretation; they are meant to be obeyed. Among these commands, according to the Huguenins, is an injunction against same-sex marriage. On the record before us, no one has questioned the Huguenin’s [sic] devoutness or their sincerity; their religious convictions deserve our respect. In the words of their legal counsel, the Huguenins “believed that creating photographs telling the story of that event [a same-sex wedding] would express a message contrary to their sincerely held beliefs, and that doing so would disobey God.” If honoring same-sex marriage would so conflict with their fundamental religious tenets … how then, they ask, can the State of New Mexico compel them to “disobey God” in this case? How indeed?

After asking exactly the right question, Justice Bosson then proceeded to give exactly the wrong answer—and to give it in a way that is both elegiac in tone and tragic in result. Since Elane Photography is a business offering services to the public, it cannot operate on the basis of the Huguenins’ sincerely held Christian principles. According to Bosson, the New Mexico Human Rights Act trumps religious liberty rights when the two come into collision.

Justice Bosson then acknowledged that his reasoning “is little comfort to the Huguenins, who are now compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

That language is breathtaking. Justice Bosson acknowledges that this decision will compel the Huguenins “to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” But, he insists, the State of New Mexico will compel them to do just that.

Then comes even more shocking language. Justice Bosson asserts: “At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others.” So this is a matter of the justices balancing “contrasting values”?

Compromise, Justice Bosson argues, “is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the moving parts of us as a people.” That compromise, Justice Bosson wrote, is just a fact of American life: “In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

So the price of citizenship is the denial of religious liberty when the Christian convictions of this couple run into a head-on collision with the “contrasting values” of others. This is a “compromise” that requires the Huguenins to give up their convictions or go out of business. What does the “compromise” require of those who push for the normalization of same-sex relationships and the legalization of same-sex marriage? Nothing.

Some compromise.

The same-sex couple in this case did not contest the fact that there were many other professional photographers available to them. Indeed, they hired another photographer after Elane Photography declined. But they still pressed for the force of law to require all commercial photographers to provide services for same-sex ceremonies. And they got what they demanded.

That is the true nature of the “compromise” that Justice Bosson argues is “the price of citizenship.” His language about the Huguenins and their plight is moving and respectful, almost an elegy. But the decision itself is a denial of religious liberty and the constitutional guarantees of religious expression and free speech.

Justice Bosson asserts that “there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.” The New Mexico Supreme Court has now made clear that the price to be paid by many is the forfeiture of their religious liberty.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/albertmohler.

Albert Mohler, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

RNC Targets Swing States for Hispanic Outreach.


The Republican National Committee is placing Hispanic-outreach teams in seven key swing states ahead of the 2016 presidential election in an effort to improve the party’s showing in that key demographic.

The GOP still is haunted by the fact that Barack Obama smashed Mitt Romney by a margin of 71 percent to 27 percent among Hispanic voters in 2012, according to exit polls.

The seven targeted states, which all have large Hispanic populations, are California, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

“The engagement team will build a grassroots infrastructure and engage with voters at community events, as well as strengthen our ties with Hispanic Republicans,” RNC officials said in a statement Monday.

“The RNC will work in partnership with state parties to ensure a year-round presence in Latino neighborhoods. Additionally, by the end of the year, the committee will make investments in 11 other states.”

Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the outreach effort unprecedented.
“This off-cycle effort will ensure our message of ‘opportunity for all’ reaches voters . . . [and helps] achieve Republican victories up and down the ballot,” he said in the statement.
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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Dan Weil

New Mexico High Court to Hear Case for Same-Sex Marriage Statewide.


Same-sex marriages currently are not recognized under the law in New Mexico, but marriage licenses are being issued to gay couples..
Same-sex marriages currently are not recognized under the law in New Mexico, but marriage licenses are being issued to gay couples.

The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide once and for all whether same-sex matrimony should be legal statewide after several counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, prompting a legal challenge.

Stepping into an intensifying debate over gay marriage in a state where same-sex unions are neither expressly recognized nor prohibited by law, the New Mexico court set a hearing for Oct. 23 to consider a request from all 33 counties statewide to settle the matter.

All five of the state Supreme Court justices concurred in ordering a review of the case without comment.

The justices had previously declined to intervene on the issue, saying they would leave it to the lower courts to rule on lawsuits being filed in different counties.

At least two court decisions since August have tipped the scales in favor of same-sex unions in New Mexico, which gay rights advocates hope will join 13 other U.S. states and the District of Columbia in recognizing gay marriages outright.

In August, a district judge in Santa Fe, the state capital, ruled that New Mexico’s constitution did not bar same-sex matrimony and ordered the county clerk there to either issue marriage licenses to gay couples or appear in court to explain why she could not.

Days later, a district judge in Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, ruled that denying gay couples the right to marry violates state constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection under the law and barring gender-based discrimination. His ruling also applied to Santa Fe.

The 33 county clerks, joined by the New Mexico Association of Counties, subsequently petitioned the high court to weigh in on the Santa Fe and Bernalillo case and decide whether the judge’s ruling should extend statewide.

Separately, a number of Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit challenging a Dona Ana County clerk who began voluntarily handing out marriage licenses to gay couples last month.

As of Friday, a total of eight New Mexico counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some on their own and some under court order, according to Chris Stoll, senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

At least 1,000 gay and lesbian couples have applied for marriage licenses across New Mexico in recent weeks, said Micah McCoy, a spokesman for the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which, together with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, represents the plaintiffs in the case in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

He said 250 applications from gay couples had been made in Dona Ana County alone.

Both sides in the debate welcomed the intervention of the state Supreme Court.

“I think it’s excellent,” said state Representative Anna Crook, a Republican from the town of Clovis who is one of 29 state lawmakers who have joined the lawsuit in Dona Ana County. “It’s been absolute chaos. We need to have a ruling one way or the other instead of, ‘My county can, yours can’t.’”

Stoll, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said: “We have couples that have received marriage licenses and have gotten married, and they deserve the certainty of knowing their marriage is secure and will be respected by the state.”

Even if gay marriage supporters prevail, Republican lawmakers could eventually be joined by conservative Democrats in putting a measure on the ballot to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. Democrats hold a majority in both houses of the New Mexico legislature.

(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Robin Pomeroy)

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ZELIE POLLON/REUTERS

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