A few weeks ago, as I sat through the State of the Union, I mentally prepared for another long list of insults and verbal attacks against me and the rest of the country’s immigrant community on behalf of our nation’s highest elected official.
And of course, Trump delivered.
However, this time around, I was pleasantly surprised to see the breaking news report on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s removal of National Guard troops from our southern border.
When you live in a border community like I do, news like this is life changing.
For the first time in three years I walked into Trump’s speech knowing that at the end of the day my governor had not forgotten me.
I’ve lived in the small border town of Chaparral, New Mexico for more than half my life now and have witnessed firsthand the militarization of my community and neighboring border towns under the direction of the Trump administration.
It’s hard to live in a country where you and your family are persecuted simply for not being born here. As a DACA recipient, I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, but that doesn’t take away that looming feeling of fear and worry that one day my family could be deported by the agents we see every day in our town.
Especially because Trump will stop at nothing to grow his deportation force.
As a full-time student at New Mexico State University, I commute daily to and from Chaparral and Las Cruces for classes. Too many times I have seen Border Patrol agents on my way to school detaining people on the side of the road.
Trump, and all those politicians who share his nativist ideology, like to preach that increased Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent presence is for the protection and well being of this country.
Here, at ground zero, that rhetoric and agenda is destroying our immigrant families through separation, detention, terror, and at times death.
Just a few days ago, Trump undermined our democracy by fabricating a national emergency to fund his unnecessary, xenophobic wall. So our New Mexico elected officials have the opportunity to counter this hate by rising up and creating solutions for our communities, not harm.
Right now what our immigrant communities need are strong protections that will uphold their rights and wellbeing, and open the doors to the opportunities needed to thrive and be productive contributing citizens in our country and the Land of Enchantment.
We need our state representatives to pass legislation like SB 196 which would change the way our state protects our immigrant communities by preventing any state resources from funding the local arm of Trump’s federal immigration agencies.
The last thing we want is our own state is to use our tax money to persecute others in our communities.
SB 196 will help our immigrant communities to feel safer in their day to day lives and in any interactions with local law enforcement,without fearing deportation.
It’s a long road ahead to ensure the full protection and wellbeing of our immigrant communities, but passing SB 196 is a start.
Gov. Lujan Grisham’s removal of National Guard troops from our border, the lawsuit against Trump’s fake national emergency, and SB 196 are all steps in the right direction for a future in which we all thrive.
Uriel Rosales-Ortiz is a New Mexico Dream Team Southern Region Fellow & a DACA recipient
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