IMMIGRANT FAMILIES FROM NEW MEXICO'S STATEWIDE IMMIGRANT'S RIGHTS ORGANIZATION REACT TO PRESIDENT'S DEFERRED ACTION ANNOUNCEMENT
NOVEMBER 21, 2014
SANTA FE, NM--Yesterday, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) program that could potentially provide relief from deportation as well as work authorization to five million immigrants in the United States. After the announcement, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico's statewide immigrant's rights organization, as well as potential beneficiaries from several counties in New Mexico, responded to the program.
From Somos Un Pueblo Unido:
"This is an important moment for our movement. For over fifteen years, immigrant families, workers and youth have been courageously organizing for a just and common sense immigration reform while also working to make New Mexico a better and safer place to live for everyone.
While Republicans, like our very own Congressman Steve Pearce, spent years stymieing efforts in Congress to fix the outdated and flawed immigration system, immigrant families throughout New Mexico joined thousands across the country to tell our stories and garner support for legalization. After countless town halls, vigils, marches, petitions, and GOTV campaigns, and after a record number of devastating deportations, we will finally see some positive and substantial movement from the White House.
New Mexico boasts some of the most sensible and humane policies in the country when it comes to immigrants. The Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) program will help move New Mexico even further along by relieving countless families from the fear of deportation, giving us more diverse work opportunities, and improving the economy for everyone.
The impact for New Mexico could be significant. According to most recently available census data, about 85,000 in the state are unauthorized or in the process of adjusting immigration status. Immigrants play a critical role in several key industries: agriculture, construction, the service sector, and oil and gas. Immigrants are also key to keeping rural communities alive and economically viable. That's why 100 rural Latino business owners in southeastern New Mexico signed on to a letter imploring Congressman Pearce to support legalization.
But this is only one step in the right direction. Immigrant families who have been part of this decade-long struggle will not stop organizing for justice. Not all of our family members are included. DAP will only cover five million, not eleven. And this administration continues to incarcerate mothers and children in our back yard at the Artesia family detention center. Even though its closure is imminent, these families will be transferred to a larger for-profit prison in Texas, and the President has made it clear that he will continue with the inhumane practice of family detention. This terrible injustice must stop.
Ultimately, notwithstanding the President's program, our community will have to keep defending itself against opportunistic politicians here at home. We will continue to defend our hard fought driver's license program, anti wage theft laws, and others. And of course, we will keep working for a permanent solution to the broken immigration system. Congress needs to pass an immigration reform with a path to citizenship for all the immigrant families who are contributing to this country."
Somos members in ten counties who will most likely be eligible for DAP are available for phone and in-person interviews. They are small business owners, dairy workers, oil and gas workers, and construction workers. Here are three examples of individuals available to speak to the press:
Roberto Sanchez migrated to Santa Fe 14 years ago to look for a better life for his family. He now has three children, two were born in Santa Fe. He works in construction and maintenance, is a Board member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, and participates in many educational and recreational activities with his three sons.
He said in anticipation of the announcement: "I started organizing with Somos in 2006 for immigration reform and other pro-immigrant policies in New Mexico. When Obama was elected, we were hopeful that we would see some relief and fairness for our families. We are finally going to see something happen. A permit will make us less fearful of the Migra and less anxious about the possibility of being deported and separated from our loved ones. Santa Fe has benefitted greatly from the immigrant workforce. This action will give us the security to contribute in other ways as well, perhaps purchasing a home, opening up a business, and investing in our community. This action will cover millions of people like myself, but we know we have to keep working for the inclusion of the rest of our families and to keep our pro-immigrant laws in place here in New Mexico."
Xochitl Huerta, a Mexican immigrant homemaker, has been living with her family in Hobbs, New Mexico for 10 years. She is raising six US Citizen children while her husband works in the pulling units in the oil fields.
She said: "My family and I have been working for over two years as part of Somos to move immigration reform forward. We helped organize rallies, town halls, and marches here in southeastern New Mexico. I told the story of our family directly to Congressman Pearce and asked for his support, but it fell on deaf hears. A deferred action program will greatly help my family. We would no longer be invisible to the politicians in this part of the state, we would feel more safe in our community and not targeted by the police. We would have better job opportunities. My husband might even be able to start the business he's been dreaming about, and leave his dangerous job in the oil industry. This is progress, but we also know it's not a permanent solution. We will keep fighting for a path to citizenship and holding our local elected officials accountable."
Sergio Herrera has lived in the country for 14 years. He moved to Farmington in 2002 and lives with his wife and three US Citizen children, two who are autistic. Since immigrating to this country, he has always worked in the oil industry.
On Friday morning he said: "The President's announcement is very timely for my family. I have been fighting my deportation since 2010 when immigration officials picked me up from the local jail. I was in jail because of a bench warrant that was mistakenly issued for a traffic ticket that I had actually paid. I was granted a temporary work permit in 2013 by ICE, but I have to go before a judge next August to see if it gets extended. I can't go back to Mexico and leave my family. They need me. This announcement gives me hope. It gives me courage to keep fighting for a true comprehensive immigration reform, so we stop living in limbo. In Farmington, ever since ICE moved into town, my community lives in fear of deportation, and the Governor continues her constant attacks to take away our drivers' licenses. Our families deserve to live with dignity, not in fear, that's why I will continue to fight until we get a more permanent solution."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.
© 2014 SOMOS UN PUEBLO UNIDO