November 12, 2016

In New Mexico, local leaders will be key to stopping Trump’s mass-deportation plan. Here’s why.

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In yesterday’s news, President-elect Donald Trump named alt-right, anti-semite Steve Bannon as his administration’s chief advisor and promised to deport 2-3 million undocumented residents of the United States ASAP.

Read more: “Anti-semite gets top post” | Huffington Post

As crazy as that might sound logistically, the legal framework to allow that to happen is already in place in communities around the country and it requires local elected leaders (the exact ones we focus on recruiting and electing at ProgressNowNM) to make a simple but critical change at the local level.

That gives us all a chance to #SayNoToTrump in New Mexico. Here’s how.

Local cooperation likely key to Trump’s new deportation plan

As VOX points out in a scary new piece this morning, federal law already permits local law enforcement agencies to sign 287(g) agreements (named after the section of federal law where the authorization is found) that essentially deputized local law enforcement as federal immigration agents.  According to ICE’s website, 32 agencies in 16 states currently participate – adding 1,675 local police and sheriff’s deputies to ICE’s team.

Today, there are no New Mexico agencies participating – but that doesn’t mean a new Trump administration push to sign up local counties, sheriff’s and city police couldn’t add to that number overnight.

It has happened in New Mexico before.

Richard Berry, campaign rally 2010

Albuquerque’s Mayor RJ Berry (widely rumored to be considering a run for governor in the new Trump era) came into office aided by an anti-crime agenda that featured immigrants prominently in negative ads. He promptly made a big deal about his executive order to end the city’s protections prohibiting police from asking crime victims and low-level offenders about their federal immigration status and a new partnership to provide ICE agents with local arrest data.

Similarly, Gov. Martinez directed the State Police to implement (now indicted) Sheriff Joe Arpaio-style policies directing State Police to investigate the immigration status of every person arrested.

Shortly thereafter, her administration sent notices to thousands of Latino residents demanding that they drive to Albuquerque to prove their citizenship, requiring many to proceed through ICE checkpoints to comply.

Local leaders ended similar practices before 

Stopping local leaders from signing onto these new agreements will take local community organizing and pressure from voters who support rational, compassionate immigration policies that don’t tear local families apart.  That has happened before, too.

In 2014, local immigrants rights groups worked with Bernalillo County’s commissioners and jail administrators to end that county’s policy of extending jail terms on persons charged with local crimes who were suspected of being undocumented.

That’s how we #StandUpToTrump in this new political age.  As it is often said, all politics is local and it will be up to local activists, coordinated through groups like ProgressNowNM who serve as watch-dogs and immigrant rights groups who serve as advocates, to protect our communities from politically-charged programs designed to tear our families apart.

Read more: Tuesday’s election proved that New Mexico voters are smarter than the rest of the country.

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