While neighboring Arizona keeps its notorious anti-immigrant law on the books, New Mexico may be taking another path. State Sen. Steve Fischmann (D) is proposing a guest worker plan to let undocumented immigrants work legally in the state. If immigrants can prove they have lived in New Mexico for the past year and pass a background check, they could get a worker’s permit and legal status.
Fischmann told a local TV station that he is pushing the guest worker plan because current immigration policy is not working:
“The feds are failing us,” said Fischmann. “We make lawbreakers out of everybody with our current immigration policy whether you’re an employer or someone trying to get a job.”
Fischmann said about six percent of New Mexico’s workforce is undocumented, working mainly agricultural jobs.
“It really strives to keep immigrant families together,” said Fischmann. [...]
But the idea seems to be going nowhere fast.
“To try to set up a state guest worker program is doomed to failure,” said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell.
Kintigh said a guest worker program would be giving amnesty to thousands of immigrants who have broken federal laws.
The federal government would have to approve Fischmann’s plan, and before that could happen, the New Mexico legislature would have to pass the bill. The legislative agenda is set by the governor, and Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has not commented on the proposal except to say that she thinks immigration reform is a federal issue.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed into law a guest worker plan that allows undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to have a state-issued permit to work in Utah. And California may consider its own version of the Utah law. Given the important role immigrants play in the U.S. economy and military, these state guest worker plans are helpful measures to let more people actively participate in the workforce.
This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 18, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Amanda Peterson Beadle is an editorial assistant at ThinkProgress.org. She received her B.A. in journalism and Spanish from the University of Alabama, where she was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper The Crimson White and graduated with honors. Before joining ThinkProgress, she worked as a legislative aide in the Maryland House of Delegates. In college, she interned at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, the Press-Register (Mobile, Alabama), and the Ludington Daily News. She is from Birmingham, Alabama.