As a recent PhD graduate in criminal justice, who attended university with a mission of positive social change, I can’t sit quiet anymore on the abuse of power by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Gov. Grisham has been overstepping her executive powers since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The press release from the governor on Oct. 9 in which she orders people to: 1. Stay home, 2. See no friends in person, and 3. Do everything electronically, is significantly outside the scope of power granted to the governor under the state constitution and violates citizens’ rights under the federal First Amendment.

The broad definition of assembly and association under the First Amendment thereby results in Gov. Grisham orders being unconstitutional and null and void. Therefore, no New Mexican has to follow the orders or should follow the orders.

Gov. Grisham’s orders have resulted in DWIs, domestic violence, suicide rates on the rise in New Mexico. Ordering people to stay home does result in more drinking and household member violence.

At the same time, academic research has clearly shown a direct link between isolation and mental health issues, including depression and suicide. Social interaction and more importantly, in-person social interaction, is key to good mental health, as academic research has shown.

It was meeting with my support network in person that allowed me to graduate in August.

Staying inside all the time has been proven to weaken people’s immune systems, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting severely ill from catching COVID-19. The orders to stay inside and not see people are going to result in two additional public-health emergencies, which are a mental-health crisis and an aftermath of New Mexicans with weakened immune systems.

This can be prevented, if Gov. Grisham stops with ordering people to stay inside and have no in-person social interaction. What she has achieved through the orders is putting all New Mexicans on house arrest.

New Mexicans know Gov. Grisham’s orders are reckless, along with endangering New Mexicans’ overall physical and mental health. All she has achieved through the unlawful, unconstitutional orders is raising the rates of DWIs, domestic violence and suicides; destroying the state’s economy; and putting everyone on house arrest, which is illegal.

New Mexicans are not going to isolate from family and friends anymore, regardless of her orders, but instead are going to see family and friends in person. New Mexicans’ mental health and sanity is more important than living in fear of COVID.

The governor should take a logical approach, such as COVID test for travel, and restaurants open by reservations only. New Mexicans will follow.

New Mexicans are going to and should ignore the governor’s orders that prevent seeing family and friends in person, as she has zero authority to order no in-person contact. It is time Gov. Grisham thinks sensibly instead of issuing unlawful, unconstitutional, unenforceable executive orders that no New Mexican will follow.

Robert Lino

Rio Rancho