IMMIGRANT FAMILIES IN FARMINGTON PROTEST DEPORTATIONS & SEPARATION OF FAMILIES; CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP SUBMITS COMLAINTS AGAINST ICE & LOCAL POLICE
AUGUST 29, 2014
FARMINGTON, NM--Yesterday, over a hundred immigrant families staged a protest during rush hour traffic on Main Street demanding an end to collaboration between local area law enforcement and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). The protest, organized by United Families for Justice (an affiliate of Somos Un Pueblo Unido), coincided with a national day of action sponsored by immigrants' rights organizations in twenty states across the country.
Protesters shared stories about how their families were separated by deportations triggered by local police and sheriff deputies. They also announced the filing of administrative complaints against a Farmington police officer for engaging in bias-based policing, as well as local ICE agent Erich Anderson for issuing ICE detainers at the San Juan County jail for individuals who had not been arrested by local law enforcement officials, a violation of ICE's internal detainer policies.
Kristiana Olivas spoke to the crowd gathered in front of the Farmington Museum about how her husband, Ricardo Olivas, was was pulled over two weeks ago by a Farmington police officer for driving with an unregistered trailer hitched to his truck. The police officer prolonged the traffic stop so that Anderson could arrive and question Olivas about his immigration status. Anderson ended up arresting and booking Olivas on an ICE detainer at the local jail.
"I became a single mom from one day to the next, and our son became fatherless," said Olivas' wife, Kristiana. "ICE lied when they opened their office at the Sheriff's Department. They said their priority was to apprehend criminals, but they are only here to terrorize our families. Who will trust the local police now?"
"ICE should not have issued an ICE detainer, nor should the jail have honored it, said Marcela Diaz, Executive Director of New Mexico organization Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "The jail has no authority to hold these individuals, but based on several recent complaints by community members, it appears that this is standard practice."
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, states: "We have complained to your office about this violation of ICE policy in the past, but we have seen no change in practice. Immigrant residents of San Juan County are essential in helping law enforcement fight crime. When immigrant families are afraid of the police or when their civil rights are continually violated, they are unlikely to seek help when victimized or report suspicious activities in their community."
The Obama administration's deportation record approaches two million people, many initially stopped by local police and the majority of whom have no criminal record.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten New Mexico counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.
© 2014 SOMOS UN PUEBLO UNIDO