New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé, known as CAFÉ, staged a well organized and peaceful demonstration in Las Cruces Thursday, blocking entrances to the regional Border Patrol headquarters for about an hour and gaining national attention about the targeting of immigrants in border communities and around the country.
ProgressNow New Mexico was on scene to livestream the event which reached more than 79,000 Facebook users and spread quickly through shares from progressive Facebook pages from California to Texas including major Occupy pages and Indivisible group pages around the country.
You can see our complete livestream here!
Watch the video around 49:00 and 1:06:00 for the two major altercations that occurred between BP staff and protestors.
CAFE held another protest in Las Cruces earlier this year that our own Lucas Herndon covered from his personal Facebook page. That action happened on the same day as ICE agents conducted raids around Dona Ana County in sweeps that many have questioned as illegal.
Of particular note were some local elected officials who came out to support demonstrators and, in the case of one state representative, actually took part in the civil disobedience of blocking the entrances.
Rep. Bill McCamley (HD33) wore a suit and tie and held a sign that read “In my America, no one is illegal by being.”
— Heath Haussamen (@haussamen) May 4, 2017
The protest, on the whole, lasted about two hours. It started with about 150 people gathering on the sidewalk in front of the headquarters for Border Patrol stationed around Las Cruces. After about 45 minutes of chanting and testimonials, organizers positioned preselected members of their group at the two entrances to the station. It appeared to have been done in conjunction with a shift change and over the course of the next hour, there were some tense standoffs with people trying to leave the premises and being blocked by protestors.
The Las Cruces Police Department did show up and at times physically moved protestors out of the way to allow vehicles to pass, but no arrests were made, and once most of the vehicles needing to leave were gone, Chief Jaime Montoya dismissed officers and they left without incident.
At 4:15 into the video Rep. McCamley talks about the previous ICE raids in Las Cruces, and that such a threat from militarized federal agents led to thousands of students missing school in the following days, and that immigrant families often can’t stand up for themselves because of the very nature of that threat of deportation and “when that happens, it’s up to other people to do that (stand up to speak on their behalf) and today that person is me,” he said.
Later (around 1:16:30 into the video), McCamley was sitting on the ground blocking the entrance to the Border Patrol station and relayed that there had been some altercation with a few of the agents, but that it had been resolved peacefully and that the local police department had not visited that side of the protest.
Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett also attended the protest in solidarity with local immigrant families. You can hear his words at around 9:30 into the video. During his statements, he poignantly stated “The America I grew up in, you didn’t turn your back on these people and you didn’t treat them badly. I think we have a broken policy.”