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Friday, March 11, 2011

UNM Rally for Immigrant Rights: This is What New Mexico Looks Like!


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This is a report on Wednesday's rally at UNM by M.E. Broderick.

"This is what New Mexico looks like." A familiar chant these days. I have heard it at the union solidarity rallies and at the undocumented drivers license battle. This is what New Mexico looks like! 

The candlelight vigil and rally for immigrant rights on Wednesday night outside the UNM Bookstore was brought together in less than 24 hours and had a very good turnout. It was supported by El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, El Centro de la Raza, ENLACE, KUNM Youth Radio, LULAC (UNM), Mexican Student Association, Native Health Initiative and Office for Equity and Inclusion. Seeing the signs, many supporters honked on their way by. It was a chilly evening with a moderate breeze that kept trying to extinguish the flames of the candles. Ironically, this is what some politicos are trying to do to the beautiful flames of hope and passion in the young people that gathered. Well, too bad to ole man wind -- the flames stay lit! And too bad to Susana Martinez -- the flames will continue to stay lit!

Dr. Christine Sierra spoke first. She emphasized that it's a critical moment for NM and for our communities, documented and undocumented, a critical moment for our students. The conversation has turned ugly with negative values around the issue of licenses for undocumented citizens. Main reason to protect driver's licenses: Safety for the community. She said we can address the issue in many ways. None of us want fraudulent behavior.

Dr. Sierra pointed out that the real fight is about the next election -- this is just more campaigning by Gov. Martinez. Other urgent matters that need to be addressed are being ignored. She stressed the need to stay involved in the fight, to lobby the legislators. Raw politics are on display. Dr. Sierra ends the following video segment thanking the legislators who are making us proud right now with their courage to stand up on this issue.  This statement was made prior to the bill being finalized and passed in the Senate later that night. I wonder how Dr. Sierra feels about the Senators voting for fingerprinting of the undocumented people going to get a driver's license?

The big positive of the night was the young concerned faces -- young people really getting involved. They get it. One determined young man explained: we have to say NO to divisiveness. He asked us to follow HB 582, which would stop undocumented students from receiving lottery scholarships. 

Another speaker warned that by marginalizing communities we put people at risk. Domestic violence, sexual violence and other crimes remain in the dark because people are afraid to come forward. Shouldn't this be of concern to Gov. Martinez? I have heard her talk about being a champion of the people who do not have a voice -- but she is making sure many people do not have a voice.

Next, a young man spoke about how important it is for the students to unite for what is ours. New Mexico cannot be unjust, we must unite! New Mexico has a a long history of supporting immigrant rights and we need to keep it that way.

Another young woman said she was up at the legislature and a Senator told her undocumented citizens are terrorists. I unfortunately stopped and quickly restarted the video where she goes on to say ... she is sure that the people who flew planes into the buildings on 911 did not have NM driver’s licenses. We need to speak up -- it is not fair to OUR communities and OUR New Mexico.

Lastly, this young woman spoke representing her organization, the ANSWER Coalition. She says it right -- they are pitting people against people -- union and non-union people, documented and undocumented. Creating scapegoats while a huge war has been going on for eight years, sucking all the money out of our country at a rate of $300 million a day. 

I'm psyched the kids tied it all together -- the war and the scapegoating. Many of the attendees have lived with war for half of their lives. They were in grade school when 911 happened. They are aware that $2 billion a week of our money goes to that wars-- and that the lack of jobs means the politicians pit one group of people against another to cover up the real cause. They get it! 

As for the issue we were gathering out in the cool breeze to address, the Senate argued over components of the bill until past midnight. In my opinion, they should have just taken the bill to the floor and voted it down. Killed it, period. Done. Let the people's wind blow out that destructive flame for this session.

Unfortunately, they did not do that. Instead, they chose to talk ad nauseum about the bill -- amendments on amendments.  Final result: The driver’s licenses will not be repealed, which is a positive. But I feel a new and horrible requirement was created for these people to get a drivers license. If the bill gets approved in the House and signed by the governor, they would need to get fingerprinted -- like criminals. Racial profiling at its finest. I can picture the little old grandmas going in for a license and coming out with black on their fingers, as if they had gotten booked into the county jail. How insulting, in my opinion!

How did the Democrats vote on this latest racial profiling -- guilty for being brown? All but three Dem Senators voted in favor of this fingerprinting. Thank you to Sen. Eric Griego, Sen. Cynthia Nava and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino for voting no on that amendment!

And to the young ones at Wednesday's rally -- we have far to go! Keep up the fight! They will never extinguish the flame of justice, of passion, of fairness, of the human spirit!

This is a post by M.E. Broderick, who also supplied all the photos and video clips.

March 11, 2011 at 12:52 PM in Education, Events, Guest Blogger, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, NM Legislature 2011, Youth | Permalink

Comments

Meanwhile, check out the right wing vitriol over at the Chickenthief Politics site (aka nmpolitics.org)

http://nmpolitics.org/forum/topics/senate-blows-up-guvs-repeal

The right wing is motivated and has the evangelical church network as an organizing asset. There is nothing guaranteed about the next election.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Mar 12, 2011 9:39:43 AM

Stuart, that website is nothing more than a toilet for foul-mouthed hate mongers, which I figured it would become given its origins. I see no benefit in arguing with those types.

The right wing may be motivated, well funded and crafty, but they will lose eventually because young people don't support their neanderthal views. We all do what we can but it may well be that Americans will have to pay for their inattentiveness, irresponsibility, lack of knowledge and obsession with meaningless distractions and consumerism. Sometimes the thing has to fall before it can be resurrected. Lately, I'm thinking there's no way around that given the degraded nature of our culture, the huge uneducated masses and the power of money in politics and government.

We aren't miracle workers, after all.

Posted by: barb | Mar 12, 2011 2:14:06 PM

It is through the fundamentalist Dominionist route that Hispanics are persuaded to vote against their own interests.
They are ignorant to the slippery slope of the racist scapegoating of people of their own heritage and culture. They don't see that Hispanic American citizens stand next in line for persecution in the name of illegal immigration. We are too close to stratifying ourselves by the darkness or lightness of our skin. The fundamentalists are only a stone's throw of justifying racism (or just about anything including murder) as God's honest will.

Posted by: qofdisks | Mar 12, 2011 9:00:47 PM

very true gofdisks very true

Posted by: Mary Ellen | Mar 13, 2011 4:18:16 PM