HUNDREDS MARCH IN ARTESIA TO SUPPORT MIGRANT CHILDREN & FAMILIES; IMMIGRANTS, CHURCHES, ALLIES RALLY AGAINST MASS DETENTION AND DEPORTATION OF IMMIGRANTS

AUGUST 17, 2014

 

ARTESIA, NM--Today, over 300 New Mexicans marched and prayed in front of the FLETCE makeshift detention center in support of the migrant women and children incarcerated there by the federal government. Immigrant families and supporters rallied at the Martin Luther King Park before leading a procession to the facility where they prayed and sang songs and called upon elected officials to stop the mass detention and deportation of all immigrants.  As protestors chanted outside of the center’s dormitories,  detainees could be seen and heard chanting and singing in response.

 

The demonstration, organized by Somos Un Pueblo Unido and local churches in southeastern New Mexico, came on the heels of several reports by immigration attorneys of substandard conditions and violations of due process rights at the family detention center.

 

Artesia City Councilor Jose Luis Aguilar said at the rally: "We must continue fighting for social justice because oppression never ends.  As a first generation American, I want these children to have the same opportunities I had.  I want these children to be able to stay and reunite with their families who are here in the US."

 

The opening of the Artesia family detention center marks the reversal of a 2009 policy by the Obama administration to stop the expansion of family detention centers. This policy prompted by vocal opposition by civil rights organizations decrying the inhumane conditions for jailed women and children across the county.

 

30-year resident of Artesia Gerardo Escamilla said: " We know Congress won't act on immigration reform. We have to put pressure on President Obama because he has to the power to stop the detention and deportation of our family members. Children never belong in jail."

 

"We are not going to tolerate more discrimination, deportation, and humiliation," said Roswell resident Minerva Patoni, a member of Somos Chaves. "We want our families to be together.  Parents of these children are living here, working here, and contributing to this country. Our government officials should let these children stay here.  Deporting children is never humane."

 

"If you want to know the character of a country, see how it treats the children," said Greg Maxi, National Education Association (NEA) Southeastern Regional Director and Lea County resident. "In Artesia, we are jailing over 600 women and children, denying them basic services and adequate legal representation. America is turning its back on people in desperate need, as it did in the 1939 with eastern Europeans Jews on the SS St. Louis.  The same hate mongering used then is turning up again.  We must demand more from our elected officials."

 

Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a New Mexico immigrants' rights organization with membership teams in ten counties.  Its offices are located in Santa Fe and Roswell.

 

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