At the recent mayoral forum, co-sponsored by the Alibi, all of the candidates present had supportive things to say about our immigrant communities. However, when asked about actual policy such as requiring judicial warrants to grant access to or to hold persons for Immigration Customs Enforcement agents (ICE), not all of the candidates were willing to put their money where their mouth is.
I believe that the fear generated by the threat of deportation is affecting us all in a negative way. When kids are afraid that their parents or other family members may not be there when they get home from school, when people are afraid to appear in court as witnesses or to report crime, including domestic violence, we all suffer. Our kids’ (and grandkids’) classrooms are impacted and all students’ progress is impaired when some students are distracted and fearful; our neighborhoods are less safe when our neighbors are fearful of reporting crime to the police.
Despite any of this, our immigrant friends, neighbors, community members and families continue go to work, pay taxes and to get up each day and generally contribute to our collective well-being in a multitude of ways. Taking care of US citizen family members is no small part of that benefit to all of us.
ICE agents’ presence in our communities appears on the cusp of increasing. ICE may have a role to play, but their role is not to disrupt us by having a local presence that threatens the continuity of our neighborhoods and families. Being an undocumented foreign national is a civil, not a criminal, issue. Immigrants, with and without status, share our values and have important, multiple roles to play. The current climate of fear prevents us from fully benefitting from all the immigrant community has to offer.
We need to do what we can to prevent ICE from disrupting our safety and well being.
We love art but not A.R.T.
I think the artist Banksy should put up one of his Walled Off Hotels on Central. The A.R.T. construction has my neighborhood feeling more and more like the occupied territories.
J. D. Sipe
Have the Courage to Dance
Thirty-one years ago I danced with David, my boyfriend then, at a street dance in the town near my family’s farm in Illinois. Later that evening I danced with David in a Mexican bar, not a gay bar, in a larger city. No one in either place beat us up! No one threatened us. I learned that we often hold the keys to our own prisons of fear.
This June 4 I enjoyed dancing to most of the music for five and a half hours at the San Felipe fiesta in Old Town. I yearn for the day when I see men there dancing with men just as women now dance with women or with men. I yearn for the day when my men friends have the courage to dance with me at any dance in town.
Until any man on Earth who enjoys sex and romance with men can freely tell his family and friends with no shame, no fear, no guilt and until any woman on Earth who enjoys sex and romance with women can freely tell her family and friends with no shame, no fear, no guilt, our struggle for romantic freedom must continue!
Although I am no longer religious, I strongly compliment some Albuquerque churches that publicly support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Why curse men in love with men? Why praise men killing men in war?
A Call to Action
Debate over issues like abortion and immigration reform does more than push our red buttons. It often makes us shut down, disown our relatives and unfriend friends on social media. But we have to tackle it.
On Thursday, June 15, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed a memo rescinding an Obama-era plan called the Deferred Action for Parents of Childhood Arrivals (DAPA). It was one of two major reforms promoted to help solve our currently unworkable immigration system. It spared some illegal immigrant parents of children who are lawful permanent residents from being deported.
The loss of this reform is not only bad for undocumented workers, but it also hurts us here in Valencia County. First, the deportation of immigrants is extremely expensive. According to the Christian Science Monitor, immigration cases already account for more than half of federal prosecutions. More importantly, mass deportations waste a rich pool of our skilled workers. Immigrants make up approximately 13 percent of New Mexico’s workforce in key industries, generating approximately $389 million in business income, according to somosunpueblounido.org.
Antoinette Sedillo López is the Executive Director of Enlace Comunitario, which works to eliminate domestic violence and promote healthy families in the Latino immigrant community. Sedillo López says our current non-system of keeping the immigrant workforce in the shadows will only “create and perpetuate a subclass of people. We need to apply labor law, diversify permits and train educators and lawmakers about the Equal Protection Clause of our 14th amendment to the Constitution.”
Creating a more fluid border doesn’t mean we have to reestablish the “bracero” program of the ‘40s. It does mean that it’s time to finally pass the (DREAM) Act (S.1291, 2001), a bipartisan bill. Another bipartisan bill called the BRIDGE Act would provide a “provisional protected presence” for law-abiding Dreamers (those brought to the United States as babies or young children and protected by DACA), deferring deportation for three years, thereby allowing them to work.
Just as California has stepped up to take the lead in international climate advocacy where our federal government failed, New Mexico must play a vital role in much-needed immigration reform. We share 160 miles of border with another country. Like a good, tolerant neighbor, we must protect and promote access to the US by using a common sense approach. If you build it, they’ll still come.
N.M. Needs to Hop on the Clean Power Wagon
Looks like we’ll have to put on our big kid pants and save our own necks, because Trump and the GOP Congress won’t do it. When Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, signed by all but two of the world’s nations, he chose to abandon world leadership and go sit at the children’s table with Syria and Nicaragua.
But the rest of us don’t have to make that same mistake. In less than two weeks, 12 US states have committed to the climate accord and to “meeting or exceeding” the targets of the US Clean Power Plan. Almost 300 US cities have signed on, and the list is growing every hour. And over 1,400 US institutions and businesses—from Apple to Yahoo—have signed on. These businesses aren’t worrying about polar bears, they’re worrying about their own profits. They issued a statement calling Trump’s decision “a grave mistake that endangers the American public and hurts America’s economic security and diplomatic reputation.”
Billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg knows a thing or two about economics. He supports meeting the climate goals as “one of the greatest opportunities the world has ever known.” He has put his own money where his mouth is, pledging $15 million toward the climate accord’s goals of improving health, extending life and creating very profitable jobs. In the book Climate of Hope, by Bloomberg and Carl Pope, many of the changes Bloomberg advocates apply to New Mexico: retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient, encouraging better modes of financing solar installations, better transportation scheduling and making agriculture more profitable by improving carbon-capture.
We respectfully ask central New Mexico’s mayors, councilors and commissioners to commit to the goals of the Clean Power Plan to protect our health and secure our financial future.
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