** Dear Friends,
This morning I received an email from our friends at RAICES and the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON).They shared with me an open letter to democrats ([link removed]) in advance of the debate tonights. There has been a frustrating lack of discussion about immigration issues in throughout the democratic caampaigns and the letter starts:
"On behalf of the undersigned organizations participating in the construction of the Migrant Justice Platform ([link removed]) , we write to raise serious concerns about the lack of debate about immigrant rights during Democratic debates and to request in the strongest possible terms that all candidates detail with far greater emphasis how they will confront and overcome the unrestrained xenophobia and domestic human rights crisis unleashed by Donald Trump."
I think that the director of Mijente, Marisa Franco, put it best when the major national latino organizing group endorsed Bernie Sanders ([link removed]) : “We're not picking a savior, we're picking our target". It is not simply about supporting someone to beat Trump, it is about holding that candidate accountable for what they are going to on day 1 to unravel the enormous damage that Trump has inflicted on our country and the immigrant and refugee communities.
To hold our candidates accountable we've got to know what is going on. Below is a long list of news: national news, statewide, local, and close to our hearts here at SFDP. We urge you, as our colleagues are urging our democratic candidates: do not look away.
Director, Santa Fe Dreamers
* If you read one article about immigration and border issues this month, I would suggest "Donald Trump Didn't Need the Wall ([link removed]) " published by Nicole Narea in the days leading up to the State of the Union. Her summary accurately describes our current reality: although Trump didn't get his big, beautiful wall, his anti-immigrant regime has been alarmingly effective in building an imaginary wall of policy that is destroying people's abilities to immigrate to or seek refuge in the US.
* The Public Charge is one of the Trump administration's hardest line policies that essentially creates a wealth test for people attempting to become legal permanent residents in the United States. The rule was originally enjoined by a federal court but a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court lifted the injunction and has allowed the rule to proceed. The rule creates stark consequences for immigrant families who use public benefits. While most people applying for their green cards do not qualify for public benefits, they often have children who do. This rule could effect 70 percent of people applying for residency. Politico breaks it down here ([link removed]) .
* February saw the launch of Trump's Travel Ban 2.0 which extended the ban to 6 new countries. 4 of the countries are in Africa, including Nigeria, and potentially affects a quarter of the African population. It is all terribly racist and xenophobic, but Nigeria is a very important partner to the US in immigration and we have the potential to lost a lot from this ban. Another terrifying fact about this ban is it also includes Myanmar, which has been accused of genocide against it's Muslim population. Here the NY Times explains this change ([link removed]) .
* This January saw the one-year anniversary of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) here on the Southern Border. If havent heard about MPP, our friends at RAICES made a pretty good 5 minute video explaining it ([link removed]) . To explain just how dangerous MPP is, Fernanda Echavarri wrote an aptly titled article for Mother Jones, "A Fucking Disaster That is Designed to Fail ([link removed]) " about a couple of days spent in border court.
* Here is an interesting piece about how family separation is still playing out on our border a year and a half after our government ended it's official "Zero Tolerance Policy". "Women to One Side, Men to the Other ([link removed]) " shares the story of a family ripped apart by government policy and brought back together again, in part, through the work of super-friend of SFDP Taylor Levy.
* We are in our legislative session here in NM and one of the most critical immigration issues affecting our state is detention. Detention is a dynamic issue and one justification our lawmakers cite for tolerating immigration detention is that it is helpful to our struggling economy. Well, Karla Molinar in her report, "The Detention Drain: How Immigrant Detention Hurts New Mexico's Econom ([link removed]) y". Learning the real facts around how detention centers affect our State can help us have real conversations with law makers about why abolition is so important.
* Important news from the NM Legislature and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center about the "Licensure for All" bill that would allow any New Mexican, no matter their immigration status, to pursue professional licensure: "Senate Bill 137 passed the House of Representatives last night with a 50-18 vote. The bill will now make its way to the Governor's desk where, if signed, New Mexico will take the first step in allowing all New Mexicans, regardless of their immigration status, to stay in our state to pursue their professions and occupations. This bill is an investment in our economy and in the immigrant community". Amazing work by all who were involved!
* As many people know, SFDP has been devotedly serving the population of trans women detained in Cibola County for over two years now. When they were suddenly transferred to Aurora, Colorado and Tacoma, WA a few weeks ago, our team lept into action. In Aurora, we have hooked up with the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advoacy Network to connect legal services and our team members have been on the ground in Denver to start connecting with local organizers and provide support to our clients. Won woman has already won her case! In Tacoma, we are working with the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, Entre Hermanos, the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project, and their networks and have already seen some success, noteably a medically vulnerable young woman was just released on a bond! We are thrilled about this collective work and are scheming about how our program can move forward powerfully!
* Finally, things were a bit hectic over the holidays and we were not able to introduce the newest attorney to our team. Their name is Charlie Flewelling and their primary legal interests are in education, disability, gender, and immigration. They are genderqueer and are multiply disabled. Charlie holds a Masters in Education, received a JD from Northeastern University, and is finishing a Masters in Special Education at UNM. Charlie has volunteered with families incarcerated at the South Texas Family Detention Center, ran a trans name change clinic, and worked giving trans specific legal information. They enjoy cooking and eating with friends to build and savor community. We are so lucky to have them on our team. Below is a picture of Charlie and Wesley after winning a case with one of their clients in Aurora, Colorado.