STATEWIDE IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS ORGANIZATION CONDEMNS NEW WAVE OF ICE RAIDS IN SOUTHEASTERN NEW MEXICO
July 20, 2017
CLOVIS, NM: This week, as House Republicans advanced a budget proposal that includes billions in new immigration enforcement funding and deep cuts to crucial government services, federal immigration agents launched a new wave of deportation raids in Clovis, New Mexico, detaining long-time residents and disrupting the lives of countless families.
"Terrorizing immigrant families is not what New Mexico is about," said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "Instead of using our taxpayer money to help revive struggling rural communities, the Trump administration is using those funds to ramp up deportations of the very people keeping these communities alive. We need our leaders in Congress to stand with us and fight to protect our rural communities."
At least eight field agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in four unmarked vehicles arrived at dozens of homes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, banging loudly on doors, and asking residents about their immigration status. In total, at least eight residents, many of them long-time dairy workers, were detained.
"Our family is devastated," said Elizabeth Bustamante, who is originally from Mexico and has lived in Clovis for 10 years. Her brother was one of six dairy workers detained by ICE agents during the operation. "We are really worried about him. We don't know where he is or if he is ok. There is a lot of uncertainty and panic in our community right now."
According to multiple reports by community members who spoke with Somos organizers on Wednesday, agents were in search of people with orders of deportation at their last known address, but they questioned and arrested any resident they came across.
"It was a traumatic and heartbreaking experience," said Maria Ceniceros, who has lived in Clovis for 24 years, has three U.S. citizen children, and was also arrested by ICE agents. "I was taking a shower when ICE knocked on my door looking for someone else. My 14-year old son let them in, and they began questioning my entire family. Minutes later, they were taking me away right in front of my children."
The new wave of enforcement operations in southeastern New Mexico comes after ICE opened a field office in Roswell this year, serving as a new base for future enforcement operations and potentially disrupting some of the state's key industries that depend on immigrant workers such as the dairy and oil and gas industries.
"ICE is terrorizing our community," said Blanca Torres, a member of Somos Clovis, an affiliate of Somos Un Pueblo Unido in Curry County, who has lived in Clovis for over 10 years. "They are roaming our streets, banging on our doors, traumatizing our children and separating our families. It's horrible. Everyone is scared. Dairy workers don't want to go to work. Businesses are empty. Our economy is really going to suffer."
"The federal government is targeting New Mexico's rural communities with these raids because there are so few civil rights and immigration attorneys working there and because they think know one is watching," said Gabriela Ibañez Guzmán, staff attorney at Somos. "Well, we are watching. We've ramped up know-your-rights outreach, and our members are documenting the abuses they are seeing in their neighborhoods and are organizing to fight back."
Somos membership teams in eastern and southeastern New Mexico are planning a protest in front of the federal courthouse in Roswell on Friday morning beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Other community leaders also reacted to the new wave of raids.
"This is completely un-American," said Robert Sandoval, a former Clovis city commissioner. "These hardworking people and their U.S. citizen children are part of our community. We must come together to find a solution and keep the Trump administration accountable for its actions. It's sickening to see how it is impacting our rural community."
Last month, House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce from New Mexico's second congressional district, voted to approve an anti-immigrant bill that threatens to take federal funds away from already financially strapped local communities that choose not to violate the constitutional rights of their residents.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.