Former Mayor David Coss of Santa Fe told a crowd at New Mexico’s state Capitol in Albuquerque that Governor Susana Martinez is a racist. During protests marking the “Immigrant Day of Action,” Coss said that he was happy to wake up that morning in New Mexico, a state, he said, that had “rejected the racism of Donald Trump, that rejected the racism of Susana Martinez.” His remarks produced cheers from the crowd of about 200 at the hourlong rally.
The Immigrant Day of Action rally – an annual event put on by Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights. It has been associated with like-minded pro-immigrant groups, such as AHORA Association to Help Our Race Advance and Interfaith Worker Justice New Mexico.
Coss, a Democrat, said that some people have asked him not to refer to others as racist because it makes them angry. “Well, you know what? When you’re a racist and you try to implement racist policies in my community, it makes me angry.”
The office of Gov. Martinez, who is New Mexico’s first female governor of Hispanic heritage, said Coss’ remarks were “sad and ignorant.”
Coss served as Santa Fe’s mayor from 2006 to 2014. On February 7, he referred to Martinez’ efforts to stop the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. “We just finished six years where New Mexico fell further and further and further behind economically. And what do we do? We chase immigrant families around, trying to take their driver’s licenses away because we said they were dangerous. That was racist, and that was wrong,” Coss said.
Martinez is now in her second term as governor in a state where Latinos constitute approximately half the population. In 2016, Martinez signed legislation that permits illegal aliens to have limited driving authorization cards rather than federally recognized Real ID drivers’ licenses.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Martinez’ spokesman, Chris Sanchez, said Coss’ “inflammatory remarks” are “sad and ignorant” because Hispanics in New Mexico supporter her in ending “the dangerous practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.” According to a poll cited by the newspaper, 70 percent of registered voters last year were opposed to providing drivers’ licenses to undocumented foreigners.
Among the speakers at the event was Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) who condemned President Trump’s “illegal and unconstitutional Muslim ban.”