Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney
Undocumented immigrants rallied protesters Monday through the bars of a mock jail cell outside the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court House to denounce the “deportation of black and brown bodies.”
More than 30 immigrant men, women and children gathered outside of the courthouse, staging a mock immigration detention center from which immigrants spoke out against “senseless deportations, family separations and militarization of our southern border.”
Organized by the New Mexico Dream Team, a youth-lead statewide network immigrant group, the rally aimed to showcase the “power of community protection networks and empower more immigrants and people of conscience to join in the fight for sanctuaries of safety.”
The rally coincided with International Worker’s Day, a celebration of labourers and the working classes promoted by socialists, communists, anarchists and the international labour movement.
Yazmin Irazoqui-Ruiz, an undocumented student at UNM, postponed her degree in medicine to work for the NM Dream Team as a community organizer.
“(It) was the executive action released by Donald Trump that slapped some sense into me, and I was like, shit, this fool is going to do everything he said he was going to,” Ruiz said. “I took a leave of absence, and I told the school of medicine, ‘I’m leaving because my community is being attacked, because my mother is being criminalized and because we need to fight back — and me being in school is not going to help anyone.’”
Before coming to New Mexico, Ruiz spoke with a lawyer who turned her away when she contacted him to help her change her immigration status.
“I learned that I was undocumented when I was 16 years old. At the time I was living in Phoenix, Arizona, and I had a lawyer tell me that in this country, I was no one and in this country, I didn’t exist,” she said.
Ruiz said being an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. is a civil offense, and that by living with herself and her mother, her stepfather could face criminal charges.
“My stepdad is a U.S. citizen, was born here, raised here, (has) family here, for years and years and years. And simply by giving me a ride to school, that’s transporting an undocumented immigrant — that’s a criminal charge against him,” she said.
Ruiz said the rally was held outside the courthouse, because people of color were being “picked up” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deported when they were coming to court for traffic citations.
“We have had confirmed cases of people showing up here, to be a good citizen(s), to be a good resident(s) of the state,” she said. “They show up to their court date as they should, and then they’re being picked up outside the court. That creates fear in our communities.”
Uriel Martinez, who is a U.S. citizen from a “mixed family,” spoke alongside Ruiz inside of the mock detention center.
“I am with the New Mexico Dream Team, I’m from a mixed-status family,” Martinez said. “As you all know, the Trump administration has made it a priority to terrorize, to tear apart families, not just here in Albuquerque but throughout the country.”
Focusing on the positive, he and Ruiz spoke to the crowd about the Dream Team’s hopes for the future.
“I want to send a clear message that we are going to fight back, that we are going to continue to mobilize our community, organize our community. We are going to continue to educate our community, we are going to continue to grow our deportation defense network to defend our community,” Martinez said.
When speaking to the Daily Lobo, Martinez said he feels he has to work twice as hard to prove himself because of his heritage and the color of his skin.
“I have always felt that I need to prove myself twice, because I was undocumented, and I am an immigrant,” he said. “It seems like I have to work twice as hard for everything, and I think that is a simply unfair notion.”
Ruiz and Martinez both said they want to bring attention to the issues their community is facing, and by working with the Dream Team, they hope to do something about it.
“I have been affected by friends and family members that I have had to see be divided from their families,” Martinez said. “I want a sense of justice and dignity for my people.”