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Immigration Battle Brews In New Mexico

Kent Paterson,  Frontera NorteSur

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - After barely a month in office, New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez is at logger-heads with immigrant advocates and organizations. In every corner of the Land of Enchantment, immigrant organizations and their supporters are protesting an executive order signed by Martinez this week that orders New Mexico police to report all arrested undocumented persons to federal immigration authorities.

Put into effect on January 31, Executive Order 2011-009 recognizes that while it is not the responsibility of state law enforcement to enforce federal immigration statutes, New Mexico police must comply with sworn duties to uphold all laws and "cooperate and communicate with federal authorities."

"This order takes the handcuffs off of New Mexico law enforcement officers in their mission to keep our communities safe," Governor Martinez said in a statement.

The legal directive is careful to declare that crime victims and witnesses should not be subjected to an inquisitive probe of their immigration status.

In response, the Las Cruces-based Task Force for Immigrant Advocacy and Services in Southern New Mexico (TIAS), protested that the new state policy could lead to racial profiling and the arbitrary use of traffic stops, and "potentially undermine civil rights for all New Mexicans."

Further, Executive Order 2011-009 conveys a lack of respect for New Mexico's immigrant residents, the TIAS charged.

"New Mexico has reaped tremendous benefits from opening its door to migrants," the group said in a press statement. "Migrants are the backbone of the agricultural industry that brings millions of dollars to New Mexico every year....

Besides inviting litigation, Executive Order 2011-009 is also sparking public protests. The Santa Fe-based Somos un Pueblo Unido organization and its allies had scheduled a February 2 demonstration in Santa Fe to protest the measure as well as pending legislation targeting immigrants, but postponed the action until Monday, February 7, because of the intense winter storm freezing the state.

Along with numerous organizations and individuals, Somos un Pueblo Unido is organizing the 1000 Women March also planned to take place in Santa Fe later next week. In addition to immigrant rights, the February 11 march will call for anti-poverty initiatives, equal rights, education, environmental protection and economic development.

Other New Mexico groups organizing or endorsing the 1000 Women March include the League of United Latin American Citizens, Albuquerque's Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and American Federation of Government Employees Local 4041, among many others.

According to the march's organizers, activists seek a "frank, direct and permanent dialogue with the Governor towards developing viable solutions to the problems that affect our families and communities."

A former district attorney for southern New Mexico's Dona Ana County, which borders Mexico, Susana Martinez is New Mexico's first female governor.


STORY TAGS: HISPANIC NEWS, LATINO NEWS, MEXICAN NEWS, MINORITY NEWS, CIVIL RIGHTS, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM, DIVERSITY, LATINA, RACIAL EQUALITY, BIAS, EQUALITY

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