Taos Immigrant Allies

Yesterday was a day we will remember.

Here in Taos, an avalanche on Kachina Peak reminded us that Mother Nature has the final say.

When one lives as close to the elements as we do up here, deep respect for Natural Law, prevails. In Society, as in Nature, Law and Justice are the Scales of Balance that prevent us from descending into mayhem and anarchy. They also serve as reminders of our duty to protect the stranger in our midst.

In America we are all Immigrants. Unless you are Native American, your forbearers came from somewhere else. This country is built on that; a melting pot of Colonialism and Political and/or Religious Asylum.

When America’s insidious misogyny  decided emphatically, not to allow a woman to rule, it took on a new face. But the rising Feminist tide was to have the last laugh. The Mid-term Election swept a wave of women and especially Minority women into the House, where a formidable woman wields the gavel of power, as our President is now discovering.

Yesterday too, the U.S. Border Patrol agents in New Mexico say a group of nearly 250 immigrants are in custody after turning themselves in to authorities at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry.

They tell us  the group was located early Wednesday after being smuggled up to the New Mexico border, with many claiming they needed medical care.

Border Patrol officials say a majority of the immigrants are from Central America.

The group includes families with small children. Apparently at least 24 large groups of immigrants have been trafficked by smugglers in the Lordsburg area of New Mexico since the start of the fiscal year.

Trump says a wall will stop all this.

To a native of northern New Mexico whose family’s presence in the region dates back generations, this whole concept of building a wall must seem painfully absurd. All of this area was Mexico just a few generations back and now they are confronted with the possibility of these artificial barriers and walls that don’t make sense.

In 1999, the city of Santa Fe — New Mexico’s capital and the oldest capital city in the United States — became one of the first so-called sanctuary cities across the country.  The resolution, which has remained unchallenged, declares that Santa Fe will not target or discriminate against residents whose only crime is noncompliance with federal immigration laws.

The city and county have even strengthened their policies by not allowing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement into their jails.

The election of Donald Trump cast a moment of doubt on the future of the state’s immigrant-friendly policies, but its leaders and its residents refuse to be deterred.

While the neighboring states of Texas and Arizona have traditionally been more conservative, especially on immigration issues, Santa Fe and other pockets of consciousness throughout New Mexico, including Taos,  have continued their long history of welcoming immigrants and providing sanctuary.

New Mexico’s colonial history remains an omnipresent part of daily life, and despite recent demographic shifts from an influx of transplants, the region’s history, traditions and culture have endured. In fact,  many New Mexicans view the border with Mexico as a completely foreign concept, which has allowed the state to continue its  unique relationship with its southern neighbor, despite changing policies.

The Spaniards founded La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís in 1610, soon  after Conquistadors began exploring north of Mexico City. For hundreds of years, the Rio Grande served as the central corridor for Spanish travel and exploration to its northern territory.

Mexican and Spanish influence over New Mexico remained strong enough to resist most attempts at assimilation once the United States gained control of the Southwest.

Santa Fe reinforced that connection to its heritage in the early 20th century, when leaders launched a campaign to attract tourists by preserving the city’s historic character. Through zoning laws, the city mandated a uniform aesthetic that it maintains today and has since become a haven for artists, writers and other visitors attracted to Santa Fe’s  eclectic style.

Because of this, the city evolved as a liberal island to the extent that even its charter includes a provision barring it from discriminating against residents based on “citizenship status.”

But one can trace northern New Mexico’s history of providing sanctuary even further. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Isleta Pueblo, south of Albuquerque, offered protection to Spanish and Indian refugees, and churches in northern New Mexico have long respected the right to asylum.

While Santa Fe and northern New Mexico have taken the lead on promoting and strengthening sanctuary policies, the state as a whole has its own history of providing refuge to persecuted groups. In 1986, Gov. Toney Anaya declared New Mexico a “state of sanctuary,” specifically for Central American refugees escaping their war-torn countries.

This declaration marked the beginning of the modern sanctuary movement that has spread from Taos to Las Cruces. In 2011, Taos County stopped honoring requests from ICE to detain undocumented immigrants with little or no criminal record.

Tomorrow ( Saturday ), night, the Taos County Democratic Party in collaboration with TIA, presents a benefit concert for Taos Immigrant Allies, “ benefiting immigrants locally and along the border.”

TIA is (not surprisingly), a group of 5 women (Bonnie Golden, Bonnie Korman, Bea Balsamo, Wendy Clarke, Susann McCarthy) who raise money to support immigrants of all nationalities who live locally.  

“We help with DACA renews, medical bills, education, and other legal fees.” Bonnie Golden told me.

“There is not one immigration attorney in Taos County so we help pay for lawyers to come to Taos.  We help Jose and Vanessa Gonzales with their efforts along the border and their organization locally, Sin Frontera.

“The benefit on Saturday was the brainchild of musician David Garver who approached me at a SOMOS fundraiser for TIA last Fall.” She said. “ There will be a Silent Auction to raise funds in addition to $10 admission at the door plus donations.  Furloughed federal workers and children under 12 are free.”

With Big Swing Theory on the bill, along with David Garver and The Bones of Romeo, It promises to be a rockin’ evening as well as a noble and worthy cause.

Today the Mountain is shrouded in cloud as another storm rolls in. We will weather this one too, along with the storms brewing on other fronts.

For more on this event or to purchase a ticket, please visit the site linked below this post.

 

TIA/taosmesamothership

sin fronteras/facebook

 

Editor’s Note:  This morning,Time reports that (despite heroic efforts by first responders, the TSV Ski Patrol and other individuals who stepped up), one of the skiers buried by the avalanche, has died, while the other remains in critical condition. The magazine’s headline  informs us that the war over the Border Wall continues.

 

All images Stock Files

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