Immigrants, advocates keep heat on

Hundreds of people packed into the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday in an intensifying show of alarm over President Donald Trump’s clamp down on illegal immigration and his vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The demonstration reflected growing concern nationally among immigration and civil rights advocates as Trump’s flurry […]

Immigrants, advocates keep heat on

Hundreds of people packed into the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday in an intensifying show of alarm over President Donald Trump’s clamp down on illegal immigration and his vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

The demonstration reflected growing concern nationally among immigration and civil rights advocates as Trump’s flurry of executive orders in his first weeks in office have escalated to include banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, an effort temporarily halted last week by a federal court.

The demonstrators included immigrants here legally and illegally and scores of supporters who gathered to listen to politicians and faith leaders rail against the president’s policies. Children stood near the speaker’s lectern holding a broad banner that read, “No ban. No wall. Sanctuary for all.”

The rally came as state lawmakers are considering a bill by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, that would effectively make New Mexico a sanctuary state, despite an executive order by Trump that would end federal funding to cities and states that “willfully refuse to comply with immigration laws.” Speakers hailed New Mexico cities, including Santa Fe and Taos, that have vowed to remain sanctuaries for immigrants in the face of those threats.

Hundreds filled the Capitol rotunda during an Immigrant Day rally.
Hundreds filled the Capitol rotunda during an Immigrant Day rally.
These policies are “a declaration of war on our values,” said Joseph Maestas, a Santa Fe city councilor.

Maestas exhorted those at the rally “don’t get angry. Take action.”

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who was at the Roundhouse to speak to lawmakers, told the gathering that under Trump’s edicts “we are pitting communities against each other and we’re erecting a wall that won’t secure our borders and will cost billions of taxpayer dollars and risk the relationship with one of our closest allies, Mexico.”

Mexico is the third largest trading partner with the United States, according to the federal government. New Mexico ships more goods and services to Mexico than to any other trading partner, according to the New Mexico Business Roundtable.

Trump has signed an executive order to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and make Mexico pay for it. The executive order also gives the Department of Homeland Security six months to study a way to stop all unlawful immigration and he’s threatened to levy a tariff of up to 20 percent on Mexican goods.

Speakers warned the wall and tariffs would impact the brisk international trade between New Mexico and Mexico, especially at the Santa Teresa port of entry near El Paso, Texas.




“Trump’s executive orders are bad for New Mexico,” Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, told the crowd.

Martinez said New Mexico is home to 200,000 immigrants from Latin America who make up 13 percent of the state’s total workforce. Those immigrants, documented and undocumented, work on farms, in the oil fields, in construction, and caring for the elderly and young, he said. A 2012 report by the Pew Hispanic Center put the number of undocumented immigrants in New Mexico at about 70,000, or about 3.4 percent of the state’s population.

Former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss went after New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. “I’m proud to be from New Mexico, that rejected the racism of Donald Trump, that rejected the racism of Susana Martinez,” Coss said to loud applause. “When you are a racist and you try to implement racist policies in my community, it makes me angry.”

Coss went on to say while the state was falling behind economically, Martinez focused her energy on removing the ability of undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. “That was racist and that was wrong,” Coss said.

Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Bernalillo, unidentified person, former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal (left to right rear) listen as Joseph Maestas (at podium), a Santa Fe city councilor, speaks to the people attending the Immigrant Day rally in the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday.
Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Bernalillo, unidentified person, former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal (left to right rear) listen as Joseph Maestas (at podium), a Santa Fe city councilor, speaks to the people attending the Immigrant Day rally in the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday.
Coss’s comments prompted an angry tweet from the governor’s spokesman Chris Sanchez.

“Former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss calls the nation’s first Hispanic woman governor a “racist,” tweeted Sanchez. “Sad and ignorant.”

Sanchez later tweeted, “His claim? That she passed the driver’s license bill — even though an overwhelming majority of Hispanics supported it.”

Immigration attorney Allegra Love, founder of Santa Fe Dreamers Project, was at the rally. She offered suggestions on changing immigration policies and law. She said first, it would help if people stopped looking at undocumented immigrants as criminals and viewed them instead as resources.

Under the current immigration system, she said, “There are x number of visas for x number of countries in x number of categories. You make your application and you get in line.”

She said some immigration categories are so over-prescribed that now she has to tell applicants, regardless of their reasons for wanting to come to the United States, that it could take two decades for them to get legal visas. “If you understand the forces that cause migration and you compare them to the system where it takes 20 years, the system is no longer responsive to the causes – famine, regime change, war, violence, economic devastation,” she said.

Permanent visas for low skilled workers, for example, are capped at 5,000 a year, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Temporary work visas, which must be reapplied for every three years, for non-agriculture workers is capped at 66,000, spread out among 59 countries.

So why do people risk coming illegally? Love gave Venezuela as an example, a country in dire economic turmoil, where the cost of basic foods have spiraled beyond the ability of people to buy them. “Food insecurity isn’t a category for a refuge, you have to immigrate,” she said.

Even if you have a relative legally living in the United States who applies on your behalf, it is a 13 year wait, Love said. “And you’re struggling to get food in the meantime.”

Congress could simply change the number of visas offered. “What about instead of thinking of them as criminals, we thought of them as potential talent for our work force or people who make our country more culturally diverse,” Love said. “Then we ask, how do we bring these people to small towns where we have job loss. Properly integrated immigrants create jobs, they own businesses, they improve tax bases.”

Contact Staci Matlock at 505-986-3055 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @StaciMatlock.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Hello fellow political junkies! The 2024 legislative session is over with the possibility for a special session for firearm-related legislation. In English: Gov. Michelle…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

A bill to prohibit immigration detention in New Mexico failed a few weeks after an organization issued a report regarding the conditions for a…
Bipartisan legislation aims to curb sales of public lands

Bipartisan legislation aims to curb sales of public lands

U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, a New Mexico Democrat, is teaming up with the former secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and current…
Arizona regulators reject proposal to assist Navajo communities impacted by coal-fired power generation

Arizona regulators reject proposal to assist Navajo communities impacted by coal-fired power generation

Utility regulators in Arizona rejected proposals from an Arizona utility to provide assistance to coal-impacted communities, including in Navajo communities in northwest New Mexico.…
Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved a plan from the state’s largest utilities for increasing adoption of electric vehicles this week. The…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

The New Mexico State Supreme Court censured a New Mexico attorney because of her “misconduct” in two unsuccessful cases pushing back on COVID-19 regulations…
Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

During her state of the state address on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told legislators that one of her legislative priorities is a request…
Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

The town of Edgewood is moving forward with its ballot referendum on its anti-abortion ordinance at a cost of more than $35,000. The town…
2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral…
NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

The New Mexico Supreme Court will decide whether anti-abortion ordinances passed by local governments in eastern New Mexico over the last 13 months can…
HSD taps former Arizona Medicaid official to lead New Mexico’s Medicaid program

HSD taps former Arizona Medicaid official to lead New Mexico’s Medicaid program

A former Arizona Medicaid senior policy advisor and assistant director will head the New Mexico Medicaid program under the state’s Human Services Department. HSD…
AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and a coalition of 19 other attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…

Bill to require disclosure of use of AI in campaign materials goes to governor

The Senate approved a bill aiming to require the disclosure of the use of artificial intelligence or other changes made by computers to campaign…
House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

The House narrowly approved a bill that would ban firearms near polling places. The House voted 35-34 to pass the bill following an extensive…
Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Nella Domenici is the lone Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, after Manny Gonzales III failed to qualify for the ballot. Gonzales did not file…
How bad is the Western megadrought? Scientists look at tree rings to find context from history

How bad is the Western megadrought? Scientists look at tree rings to find context from history

By Alex Hager, KUNC The current Western megadrought is unlike any other dry period the region has experienced over the past 500 years. That’s…
Another New Mexico legislative session ends, and again — no new oil and gas reforms

Another New Mexico legislative session ends, and again — no new oil and gas reforms

By Jerry Redfern, Capital & Main “It was a very good year!” The message from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association landed in inboxes the…
Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Hello fellow political junkies! The 2024 legislative session is over with the possibility for a special session for firearm-related legislation. In English: Gov. Michelle…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report