President Donald Trump built his campaign on the promise of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a month after his inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to begin construction. And last Friday, the department took a step to make sure it will look good. In a little-noticed update, the department now says it wants a wall that will be “nominally 30 feet tall,” and, importantly, that bids will be judged on “aesthetics,” as well. The new language, perhaps coincidental but likely not, appears to be a bureaucratic translation of Trump’s oft-repeated promise to build a “beautiful” wall from 30 to 55 feet high.
Three of the state’s largest cities highlighted their opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies this week. The moves come as President Donald Trump has given more power to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. The move appears to show wider enforcement against both those with criminal records and those without. In Albuquerque, the city council* approved a memorial reaffirming the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status. The move came in front of a packed crowd that included many who were unable to fit in the chambers.
A draft memo from the White House to deploy National Guard troops in certain states to aid in rounding up those in the country illegally. One of those states is New Mexico. At least two spokesmen have denied the report from the Associated Press. The AP first reported on the existence of the draft memo this morning and said that Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly wrote the memo himself. From the AP report: Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
According to immigration rights advocates, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed they conducted immigration actions in New Mexico. Fernando Garcia, the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, told NM Political Report his group was able to confirm that some sort of immigration activity took place in Chaparral and Las Cruces. “We don’t know the extent of the activity,” he said in a brief interview. He said it wasn’t clear if this was only targeted actions at certain individuals, or if they were wider raids, as have been reported in other states. In an email, ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa declined to confirm the operation to NM Political Report, saying they “will not confirm an operation prior to its completion, nor will ICE speculate on future operational activities.”
NM Political Report had asked Zamarripa to confirm actions in Las Cruces and also for information about any other recent enforcement in New Mexico.
It’s hard to find anyone in Washington who knows border issues better than Alan Bersin. His unique perspective combines years of frontline law enforcement experience with academic knowledge and intellectual interest in the historical, economic and social forces that are at work at the borders of the United States, especially the U.S.-Mexico line. Bersin became U.S. attorney in San Diego in 1993 and subsequently spent almost five years as President Clinton’s “border czar,” overseeing a border-wide crackdown on illegal immigration and drug smuggling. During the Obama administration, he served in several key posts in the Department of Homeland Security, including as acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, the force of 58,000 employees that includes the U.S. Border Patrol as well as CBP officers guarding air, land and sea ports of entry. He later served as assistant secretary for international affairs and chief diplomatic officer at DHS, a job he left last month.
Dozens of people who oppose Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees gathered in Albuquerque Wednesday afternoon, standing behind a coalition of speakers who said they were ready to fight against Trump’s efforts. Some held signs, saying “We’re Not Going Anywhere” and “Mayor Berry: Reject Trump’s Immigration Machine #heretostay.”
Signed Wednesday, Trump’s order makes official the administration’s plans to increase deportations, punish sanctuary cities by ending federal grant funding and build a new border wall between the United States and Mexico. At the press conference, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos executive Rachel LaZar said those who oppose Trump will fight back. “We will organize locally to pass and strengthen local immigrant friendly policies,” LaZar said. “We will use strategic litigation to fight back and we will ramp up some of our organizing efforts to fight back against Trump’s deportation machine and agenda of hate.”
ACLU of New Mexico executive director Peter Simonson echoed LaZar.
Just months before Donald Trump’s surprise victory to the nation’s top office, Gov. Susana Martinez penned an op-ed about a bright spot in New Mexico’s otherwise weak economy. That bright spot is also a geographical location—the border. “We are quickly positioning our state as a gateway of international trade throughout the Americas,” Martinez wrote in June, “and we are embracing our newly found leadership role, which wouldn’t be possible without the cross-border relationships we’ve built.” Related: Why Trump would almost certainly be violating the Constitution if he continues to own his businesses (by ProPublica) Last year, for example, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, respectively, ranked as the two metropolitan areas in the nation with the highest economic growth in exports. In 2012 and 2014, New Mexico also led the nation in export growth. Nearly half of these exports—45 percent—are shipped south of the border.
It was a brazen attack. Some 60 gunmen linked to the brutal Zetas cartel descended on a quiet cluster of towns just south of the Mexican border in the spring of 2011 and launched a door-to-door extermination campaign that went on for weeks, leaving an untold number of people dead or missing. Yet in the five years since the slaughter in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, the Mexican government has failed to fully investigate, much less address the needs of the victims and their families, according to a preliminary report released today by a panel of scholars and human rights investigators. “It’s horrifying because it was all so blatant,” said Mariclaire Acosta, a veteran human rights investigator who advised the panel. “This wasn’t a hidden crime.
The Archbishop of Santa Fe is sounding the alarm over the tone surrounding the political debate over immigration. Archbishop John Wester made the comments on Monday according to the Associated Press. “I think some of the rhetoric coming out of this campaign is deplorable,” Wester said according to the wire service. “It’s scapegoating and targeting people like the immigrant, the refugee and the poor.” New Mexico is the state in the nation with the largest Latino population; the most recent attempt by the Pew Research Center to see how many Latinos are Catholic put the percentage at 55 percent in 2013 (the number was 67 percent in 2010).
The state’s top elected official and top attorney are on opposite sides of a key immigration case in front of the United States Supreme Court. At issue is an executive order by President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. The order would allow some 4 million immigrants to not only live without fear of deportation, but would provide a framework for a pathway to legal status. The order would only apply to those who have been in the United States for at least five years, have a clean criminal record and have a child that lives in the country legally. Those opposing the legislation say it is an overbroad order that should have gone through the legislative branch, that is Congress, first.