Protesters organize against ICE raids

Originally published on the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

Hundreds of fists were raised into the air over the past week as Burqueños came together to show support for undocumented immigrants nationwide.

At three separate events, protesters showed support for their undocumented neighbors, friends and family, with chants like “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” and “Raise a hand, make a fist, undocumented people will resist.”

It wasn’t all love and acceptance, however, with the event on Tuesday evening ending in a fight.

Spurred by several raids conducted over the course of the last two weeks by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and President Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric toward immigrants, Albuquerque activist groups including Indivisible Nob Hill, Power Through Peace and Working Families New Mexico took a stand against what many are calling injustice.

A rally at the Bernalillo County Courthouse and a vigil held for families affected by recent ICE raids were held Friday, kicking off a weekend filled with both unity and anxiety.

Signs made out of rulers and construction paper sport pro-immigration quotes on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 at Civic Plaza.

Wrapping up the weekend hype, former New Mexico Senator Eric Griego, now a member of New Mexico Working Families, addressed a crowd of more than 500 people at an anti-ICE protest Tuesday afternoon at Albuquerque Civic Plaza.

Griego explained that under former President Barack Obama’s administration, more illegal immigrants were deported than under any other administration thus far.

“However,” he said, “Obama also passed executive orders to protect DACA, and (orders) for a lot of young people who weren’t born here but who grew up here, and for dreamers — these raids in people’s houses, courthouses, schools, all these places that they’re doing it now, that’s not what Obama was doing.”

Albuquerque activist Joel Gallegos spoke at Friday’s courthouse rally and the event at Civic Plaza Tuesday.

“We have to keep in mind that it was a democratic president who had the largest amount of deportations under that presidential administration,” Gallegos said.

Gallegos’ father, who owned a business in Albuquerque, was deported under the Obama administration in 2012.

“He contributed so much to the economy here, and yet now he’s discarded even though they gladly took his business taxes,” he said. “I just think it’s kind of messed up that that doesn’t really count for anything.”

Local citizen Lisa Christopherson, a first-generation American, said she was worried about how the ICE raids are being conducted under the new administration.

“Under Obama (undocumented immigrants) had an opportunity to have representation, they had time to contact their families” Christopherson said. “I think the way it’s happening now is much more inhumane, there’s much more fear. The process is not due process with respect to the human and to the family.”

Speakers at both Friday’s and Tuesday’s events agreed that, while Obama’s administration saw more deportations than any previous leadership, immigration laws will become more stringent under Trump.

“I think it’s going to get worse, there’s no doubt about that,” Gallegos said, adding that people need to think about what effect Trump’s long-term plans will have on immigrants and the economy.

“I think it’s good that in some ways Trump became a catalyst for a stronger fight-back movement,” he said. “But it shouldn’t just be limited to the Trump administration of course.”

Speakers at Tuesday’s event addressed a resolution that will be presented to the Albuquerque City Council at a meeting Wednesday evening. If the resolution is passed, Albuquerque will remain a sanctuary city.

Speaking at the vigil held for families affected by ICE Friday evening, one undocumented student currently protected by DACA said that ICE raids “target some, sweep up many and terrorize all,” but that undocumented immigrants will not run in fear. Rather, they will unite with their legally residing allies.

“We are mothers, taxpayers, neighbors, workers who clean your homes and who take care of your parents and children, who harvest the chile of New Mexico, who work in the oil fields and the dairies,” the student said. “We are all New Mexico.”

UNM senior Dominic Gonzalez skipped his classes Friday in order to attend the courthouse rally and vigil.

“Today is national strike-against-Donald-Trump Day,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t go to class so I thought I would best spend my time protesting and showing solidarity to people that are affected by Donald Trump’s actions.”

Gonzalez, who also attended Tuesday’s rally, was hopeful that New Mexicans would keep fighting for undocumented rights.

“Immigrants are welcome here,” he said. “I think the vast majority of people like immigrants and realize that we can’t do it without them, and that deporting them is not what we should be doing.”

While the events over the weekend were peaceful, Tuesday’s protest at Civic Plaza broke into violence as the crowd dispersed.

Protesters wearing masks engaged with a known agitator and member of a group called the Three Percenters.

The group, known in Albuquerque as a White militia movement, was filming protesters in an effort to antagonize them.

The interaction between one woman wearing a mask and a male member of the Three Percenters escalated when the man began choking her.

Other protesters saw the altercation and began punching the Three Percenter, which drew a frenzied crowd that had to be broken up by event organizers and federal agents.

Unfazed by the scrap, Barbara Lemaire of Indivisible Nob Hill concluded the event by thanking all those who came to show their support at the “99.9 percent peaceful event.”

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