Senator Martin Heinrich Makes Case For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Will Rest of New Mexico Delegation Follow?
Today I participated on a call with United States Senator, Martin Heinrich from New Mexico, along with various organizations from across the state, many of which are involved on issues related to social justice, human and immigration rights.
The Senator’s office invited many community leaders to participate on this call because it was around a hot topic that could finally mean something in the coming weeks and months: comprehensive immigration reform.
Following the plight of immigrants in my own family and as an activist for the last ten or so years, this call was important in a lot of ways. First, it tells me we might see some results this year. Second, it says that as a border state, New Mexico is at the forefront of the conversation on border security and that our opinion on the issue should matter. Finally, despite the horrendous record of our own Governor (must I remind you), our congressional delegation (minus the guy who’s last name rhymes with fierce but is not) have an opportunity to be leaders in ongoing discussions around the issue. By contacting those of us on the ground to participate in a dialogue, my hope is that we can help the Senator frame his policy on this very important matter.
I had an opportunity to pose a question to Senator Heinrich prior to the call and the question was repeated almost verbatim throughout today’s conversation and that question was, “what is the Senator’s stance on deportations and the separation of families?”
His answer was simple.
“Illegal crossings [on the border] are down 90%. We must recognize what works and we must have real consideration for our communities”
An activist from Santa Fe made it clear, “the border is already secure,” Senator Heinrich may have confirmed it with this very simple statement.
But why does the Obama administration, Democratic Senator’s like Charles Schumer and those on the right continue to insist that we have to incorporate an overhaul in border security in order to make comprehensive immigration reform happen?
At the local level, we have seen horrible injustices to families who have been separated because of a horrible immigration system. Actually, “system” is giving the federal government too much credit. Instead, what families are experiencing, and have been for many years, is a bottle neck of uncertainty. Laws at the local and state level continue to deprive individuals of basic human rights, being subjected to intolerance and racial profiling at the hands of law enforcement who have no idea how to handle culture-sensitive issues or any immigration issue for that matter. More importantly and you would think this was common sense, but law enforcement should not be dealing with these issues.
Calls (and visits) with congressional leadership should continue and while Senator Heinrich was very happy to continue this dialogue from now on, it is important the we continue to push the same debate with the rest of the New Mexico delegation. It is obvious that if the President is talking “border security” and continues to deport millions of people by separating millions of families, those of us working on the ground in New Mexico should be facilitating this debate and encouraging our leaders to do the same.
But we’ve been here before. The question though is what will we do to make sure that promises made are no longer broken? We must no longer rely solely on the a broken system of checks and balances. We must demand that these promises be fulfilled by organizing our communities.
The Senator ended the call with, “este es el año.”
We must make it so.