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Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

Senator Martin Heinrich Makes Case For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Will Rest of New Mexico Delegation Follow?

March 18, 2013 2 comments

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.

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Why Worry About An Outward Bigot, When It’s Your Own You Have To Worry About?

January 24, 2013 1 comment

Imagine how much more effective our New Mexico Legislature would be if “legislators” in Santa Fe, were actually “legislating” bills that help create, oh, I don’t know…jobs, maybe? Instead, our legislators, who are currently in their second week of a 60-day legislative session, are dealing with the Governor’s attempts to once again, continue with her ongoing attacks on immigrants.

This is the third year in a row New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will go up against immigrant activists and public safety proponents, targeting drivers licenses and attempting to repeal a law allowing undocumented New Mexican residents to obtain drivers licenses. For the third year in a row, Governor, you will be stopped.

But at what expense to the rest of New Mexicans who need to work?

“I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” said Martinez, a Republican. “I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law.”

Governor Martinez is in no way interested in any compromise, which Democrats in the Senate and House have attempted to do the last two years.  While I am in no way in favor of the compromise being put forth by some legislators in the Senate and House, it is, by far, a much greater attempt for middle ground than the absolute repeal of the law.  But that’s what the Governor is committed to.  Full repeal of the law and going back in time.

This law allowing undocumented immigrants to acquire a drivers license, was brought forth to a vote and was made into law back in 2003 — way after 9/11 and way before this Tea Party, uber-conservative wave that swept the nation the year Susana was elected.  The purpose of the 2003 drivers license passage had nothing to do with the state declaring “safe haven” for undocumented immigrants, but instead it allowed for a much safer and less-costly situation for New Mexicans paying for auto insurance.  When you have a drivers license to drive in this state, you can acquire insurance, which not only reduces costs overtime for insured drivers, but you don’t have to deal with high costs that come with uninsured drivers during an accident.  It’s a win-win.

Except for the Governor.  Her only goal is to follow other anti-immigrant and in my own opinion, push very anti-Latino policies, in order to reach national political prominence.  To do this, she is playing the role of “enforcer” and following the likes of Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona who will ignore the Federal Government to do her own thing in her own state, despite the numerous attempts, on both sides, to find compromise.

Susana Martinez became popular because she was 1) Latina 2) endorsed by Sarah Palin at the height of her own popularity during that “wave” I mentioned earlier and 3) she was a Latina going against her own.

Why have the anti-immigrant bigot do it when you can get an ambitious Latina to do it herself?

I’m absolutely appalled at this ongoing witch hunt the Governor has towards immigrants.  More frustrating is we have to endure it once again, for the third year in a row.  We have to have a meaningless debate rather than focusing on real issues affecting all New Mexicans.

Next week, many immigration activists, including myself, will be in Santa Fe, protesting this attack on immigrants and pushing our leaders and legislators to do the right thing:  vote against the repeal if and when it comes to a vote.  However, if legislators plan to move forward with a compromise, fine.  But in the end, the Governor is not going to go for it.  She wants the repeal and she will bet her entire legacy on it.

Let her.  It will make her re-election bid that much more wonderful for the rest of us, who are going to work hard to make her a one term Governor.

Planned Parenthood, Socialism, Fat People, Oh my!

Normally, I get my inspiration to write from information or news I read online.  Other times, I am inspired by some of the

Little Texas

conversations I am a participant of or overhear something crazy from some random person at the restaurant or bar.  Yesterday I went to  lunch with my sister and my parents.  While we chatted and ate our food, two couples of Senior’s were seated in a booth right behind us.  Not to be nosey, but I could not help but overhear the conversation between these four individuals.

I need to give you a quick update on where I actually spend most of my days.  I live in southeast New Mexico and for the most part, it is the most conservative region in the state.  If you study New Mexico politics, you will learn that this area of the state is called, “Little Texas.” Simply put, it is an area rich in oil, little men who drive around in large pick-up trucks and girls like me are looked down upon for their “hippie” politics.  One reason why this region is so conservative (other than the oil conglomerates) is because it a place where many retiree’s come to settle.  Fortunately for me though, this conservative demographic is gradually losing its strength in numbers and I am beginning to see an increase in faces that look my age and people with the complexion I should probably have if I stopped wearing cardigans in the summer.  

Back to lunch…

These four individuals were discussing issues related to health care reform and the ongoing debate taking place throughout the country, on this one year anniversary of #HCR passage.  The way I heard the discussion was how I envision the Tea Party discussing the overall issue, with death panel fear behind each and every spoken word.  They discussed the direction President Obama had taken on the debate and their belief that health care should not have been passed because it is not the government’s responsibility to take care of the matter.  Instead, we should blame all our health care problems on fat people. (cough, cough)

Me being awesome!

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I do not fit the description of a super model.  Yes, I could use to lose weight and perhaps exercising should be the first goal in doing so, but hearing these couples look down on others and not looking at the underlying reasons as to why we really need health care for all, made me think that the Republican Party and those on the conservative side supporting the Tea Party, are really out of touch with reality and definitely on the wrong side of history.

I can see the frustration people have with heavy people (talk to my sister, the exercise fanatic)  But rather then just blaming “fat people” for all our problems, why not look at the overall picture?  If you identify those with the greatest weight issues across the board, studies show that communities of color, primarily those in low income communities, have a higher percentage of obesity because they lack access to services or resources then those in affluent communities.  When you look at low-income communities you will find more fast food eateries and liquor stores at every street corner, and very few grocery stores with fresh produce creating this phenomenon we call, “food deserts.”

Let me give you a visual.  I lived in Los Angeles for five years and 2.5 of those years, I lived in East Los Angeles, in a neighborhood called Boyle Heights.  Going to the grocery store in Boyle Heights was always a chore and I dreaded the day I needed to go because the lines were always dreadfully, long.  The vegetables and fruit were never of good quality and most if not all the time, I had to get into my car and drive to Silver Lake and shop at Trader Joe’s in order to get what I really needed.  I never had problems finding good produce there.  The thing is though, I could get in my car and drive to Trader Joe’s.  For families living in Boyle Heights, where poverty is high and public transportation is unreliable, options for traveling up Sunset Blvd and on to Hyperion to grab some fresh produce is never an option.  Furthermore, the country faces an epidemic of lacking preventive health care, where  it is almost non-existent in many communities of color.  What is even more scary is the fact that organizations like Planned Parenthood, (currently being targeted by GOP) an entity doing so much for women’s health, is now

"I stand with Planned Parenthood!"

under attack.  For agencies providing services to the poor.  If the Republican Party has it’s way, Planned Parenthood could be forced to stop providing preventive exams, prenatal care and disiminating information to countless women all over the country.  Instead of focusing on these groups and cutting real pork (like the Defense budget) Republican’s are attacking a woman’s chance of living.

Looking back and dissecting in my head the conversation held by those two couples yesterday makes me so angry because there are thousands if not millions of people in this country, blaming certain groups for the ills of this country.  Although it is easy to find a target and use them as a scapegoat to make a point, the overall picture is ignored and we  never accomplish anything when we ignore the root of the problem.  Why not really look at the issue, like “food deserts,” for example, or supporting the First Lady, Michelle Obama in improving school lunches for children?  We should work to improve the overall access of health care for all, rather than limiting it to just a few and letting those few judge the rest of us for not having the privilege to afford health insurance.  Yes, we should work to improve our health and take personal responsibility for our own progress, but we should not ignore the millions of people who have no access to the resources that could help them make better choices.  When we find solutions to those issues, then the idea of universal health care for all will not sound as scary as the Republican’s have made it out to be.