New Mexico: Hundreds Rally at State Capitol Against Immigration Executive Orders

By Emmanuelle “Neza” Leal of Somos Un Pueblo Unido (originally published as a press release on February 6th, 2017)

SANTA FE, NM–On Monday, hundreds of immigrant families, labor, faith and civil rights leaders, and elected officials held a rally at the Roundhouse to speak out against President Trump’s dangerous executive orders on immigration and their potentially damaging impact on New Mexico.

“These executive orders are bad news for a state like New Mexico,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “Allowing the Trump administration to hijack our already limited local resources and use them to target and deport our families will have severe economic and social consequences for all New Mexicans, citizens and non-citizens alike.”

Last month, Trump signed a series of executive orders on border and immigration enforcement threatening to separate immigrant families using a massive deportation force, bully local governments into aiding in the effort, construct more immigrant detention centers in border states, strip immigrants of their due process rights, and discriminate against the Muslim community.

During today’s rally, state legislators also announced their intention to introduce of a joint memorial firmly opposing the implementation of Trump’s executive orders and urging Congress to do the same.

“It’s time for New Mexico to join a growing number of states and oppose President Trump’s dangerous immigration executive orders,” said state Senator Richard Martinez (D- Rio Arriba), who is introducing the joint memorial. “These ill-conceived orders not only go against our values as New Mexicans but threaten to devastate entire communities, especially the rural communities I represent.”

Immigrants make up approximately 13% of the state’s workforce in key industries such as agriculture, dairy, oil and gas, hospitality, home health care, construction, retail and service, and various professional sectors. The majority of immigrants live in mixed-status families, and approximately 85% of New Mexican children whose parents are immigrants are U.S. Citizens.

Communities across New Mexico have adopted a broad range of local “sanctuary” policies that protect the immigration status of residents, deny the use of local government resources in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and that seek to integrate mixed status immigrant families into the civic, economic, and cultural life of a community.

These policies are paying off.  Close to nine percent of small business owners in New Mexico are immigrants and according to the American Immigration Council, they generate approximately $389 million in business income in the state. Unauthorized immigrants, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, pay approximately $66.3 million in sales, personal income and property taxes on an annual basis.

Local elected officials from some of the state’s many sanctuary cities also spoke out.

“In New Mexico we are a community of sanctuary,” said Taos City Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Darien Fernandez. “This is an issue of justice, of keeping families together and keeping our community and economy alive. And we are not going to let this administration do anything to break that up.”

“New Mexico has a long tradition of providing sanctuary to those fleeing harm, from the Pueblo Revolt to those fleeing persecution in Central America during the 1980s. We won’t turn our back on our traditions now. Instead we must strengthen those policies,” said Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal.

Below are additional responses from various community organizations and Somos members from across the state:

“Labor is standing with all of New Mexico’s immigrant workers and their families,” said Jon Hendry, President of the New Mexico Federation of Labor–AFL-CIO. “If they come for them, they have to come through us first.”

“We will not turn our back on the great American tradition of welcoming those who seek freedom and opportunity in our communities,” said Peter Simonson, Executive Director for ACLU of New Mexico. “Immigrants and refugees are valuable members of our society and inextricably linked to our lives. They are our neighbors, our friends and our family members, and anyone who tries to discriminate against them will face the full firepower of the ACLU.”

“We need our state, cities and counties to stand for public safety, for victims of crime and against these dangerous executive orders,” said Antoinette Sedillo, Executive Director for Enlace Comunitario. “Polices that do this ensure that victims get the help they need.”

“Anti-immigrant prejudice, fear and hate have no place in our schools, no place in our communities, no place in New Mexico and no place in the United States,” said Suki Haveli with the Anti-Defamation League. “We are proud to stand with other communities, organizations and leaders.”

“I started my own small business the same year Española because a sanctuary city,” said Guadalupe Lopez, longtime resident of Española and member of Somos Española. “Feeling safe allowed me think the impossible and work to better provide for my family.”

“I live in a sanctuary city,” said Claudia Lopez, longtime resident of Santa Fe and member of  Somos Un Pueblo Unido‘s United Worker Center. “I own my own home, started my own business, and now my eldest son will graduate from high school and go to college to become a doctor. None of this would be possible if I lived in fear of deportation every day.”

“As a border state, New Mexico has a long cultural and economic history with Mexico,” said Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque) who recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the use, transfer or selling of state land to aid in the construction of a border wall. “We will not allow this administration to jeopardize our relationship to Mexico and the sabotage the economic potential of that relationship by building a wall.”

Immigrant Day of Action is part of a series of Moral Monday rallies co-organized by the New Mexico Federal of Labor–AFL-CIO. Other co-sponsors include IATSE Local 480, Equality New Mexico, ACLU of New Mexico, the Anti-Defamation League, Enlace ComuntarioSomos Un Pueblo Unido and many others.

Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a member of the New Mexico Equal Voice coalition, is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker’s rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell, New Mexico. This cross-post was adapted from a press release originally titled, Hundreds Rally at State Capitol Against Trump’s Immigration Executive Orders; Push for Joint Memorial Urging Legislature and Congress To Do the Same.

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