Taos United / Taoseños Unidos
Community Forum Feb 19th, 2019
Before our immigration panel, Bea Balsamo gave us a border update. Circular migration, movement back and forth across a border, usually for employment, is not as common now as asylum-based immigration. A backlog of 311,000+ people are waiting for asylum processing. The Trump administration is “metering” lawyers, resources, etc. Illegal crossings can be fatal. Good samaritans in AZ, who leave food and water in the desert, are now being prosecuted. Family separation is still going on, and the U.S. is returning some immigrants to Mexico while their case proceeds. Doctors Without Borders, seeing immigrants in El Paso, reports serious health problems. Undocumented crossings are actually at 20 year low. We need to accept our responsibility to honor asylum laws. When we dehumanize immigrants, we dehumanize ourselves.
- Rachel Cox(RC) – Clinical Director of Community Against Violence, filling in for Yolanda Martinez
- Peggy Nelson (PN) — Public Defender in Taos. Co-authored resolutions to make Taos County a sanctuary county for immigrants.
- Jose Gonzales (JG) — Makes regular trips to the border to deliver donated items to the border. Heads Taos Immigrant Allies.
(Allegra Love could not come from Santa Fe, due to weather. She asked that we support HB 624, which provides support and translators.)
PN— Sanctuary is NOT sheriffs defining on their own which laws to enforce. Sanctuary is defined as a place of refuge or safety and provides immunity to arrest in a fortified place. Sanctuaries are NOT immune to federal law, but it is NOT up to local entities to aid ICE. It’s a matter of use of resources. San Juan County some time ago held prisoners on orders of ICE. This was litigated, and cannot continue. The Mayor of Aztec, also in San Juan County, expressed support for pending legislation. After 2016, concern was expressed that if local officials failed to support ICE, there could be retribution: loss of federal funds, grants, etc. Local entities can be deputized to work with ICE, if they choose, but cannot be forced. There are reasons to declare sanctuary other than physical safety. Taking a moral stance helps reduce fear, supports crime victims, and provides needed services. In 2011 Taos Dreamers asked the town for support, requesting comprehensive immigration reform.(11-70) Susan Baker, a lawyer at the time with the County, helped pass Resolution: 2017-22 , which recognizes civil rights of immigrants and refugees. The resolution is completely legal and protects the County. A 2014 resolution concerned detention: no staff will notify ICE of detainees. (Even if a resolution states “no resources”, nothing prevents individual County employees from acting on their own, and this has occurred.) We should be proud of Taos for taking these stands. In 2018 the ACLU and the Brennan Center began an initiative to sign up retired judges to put pressure on ICE to make courthouses safe places, even if it’s a criminal, not a civil matter.
Other immigration laws of interest this year:
HB 287 Prohibits ‘the wall’ on State land. “Declaring an emergency” takes effect immediately.
Please express support for this legislation and support to the people doing this work. Engage those who disagree respectfully, a step at a time.
(JG) Greatest needs are lawyers for immigration help, office space, counselors, grant writers, donations for gas and hotel rooms.
The Taos Council is considering a proclamation in support of immigrant children. Please write in support. Taos County has passed a similar resolution. 23% of Taos County residents are immigrants and their families come last when it comes to resources, which are sometimes denied due to immigration status. Concurs with (PN) that families experience long waits at the border under very difficult circumstances. Asylum process is being thwarted.
500 families in Juarez. 40% are waiting for asylum appointment. One family waited for 6 months. It’s a misconception that there are criminals in these “caravans”. Mexico deported 23 for criminal behavior, out of thousands, and has reduced their own support funding by at least 50% — and most of this goes for heating. These families are seeking survival. No comparison between “domestic” violence and crimes committed by immigrants. Trump’s numbers are totally wrong.
On the last few border trips, Jose worked a lot with children on both sides of the border. Slime was a big thing! They do not even own toys. A basketball, or a coloring book really makes the kid’s day. There is a need for OTC medication, because children are coming in sick. Family separation is still happening. The Tornillo, TX detention center was shut down but Florida detention centers are going strong. Children still cannot find their parents or a sponsor. This is all incredibly wrong. An asylum seeking family in Loredo and was told that their teenager needed separate questioning. The Mother was deported, her son was held for 10 months and is now suffering from PTSD and social displacement.
There is a huge need in Taos for mental health for immigrant families. Local agencies say “No insurance, no services”. Special need for bilingual therapists. Small nucleus of immigrants in Santa Fe, and even Espanola. Immediate deportation of asylum seekers if they are even a few minutes late to appointments in ABQ. 70-80 individuals, women, teenagers, men are deported daily by ICE officials.
RC – CAV serves people impacted by trauma: men, women, trans. Strict confidentiality policy. A safe place by definition. No need for ID. CAV provides shelter, transitional housing and counseling. Food and supply boxes. Free civil/legal support to obtain restraining orders. Post 2016 fear has caused some people to stay underground and show some cautiousness about who to trust. Outreach is necessary because things have to be very unsafe before people will ask for help. Trusted people, such as Jose, are a pathway to services that are needed. ICE has come to restraining orders hearings. Stay strong, connected so that we’re ready to act when needed. 24 hour crisis number. 758-9888. hotline for referral to services and a resource and clearing house for businesses.
Petition to volunteer passed around by Bea.
GENERAL LEGISLATIVE STATUS UPDATE:
Handout: STATUS OF IMPORTANT BILLS — Committees on which our local legislators sit are emphasized in blue on the spreadsheet.
With a “probable cause” order from a court, firearms can be removed from individuals deemed to be an immediate threat to themselves or others. There is also a process to return firearms. STATUS: Passed the House -> Senate Public Affairs Committee
HB 31 – Phased-in Minimum Wage. This bill was amended to respond to concerns of the restaurant industry. Tipped workers may be paid $5/hr LESS than the minimum wage for now — with a “phased-in” phase-in, but eventually will receive the full minimum wage. STATUS: Passed the House-> Senate Public Affairs Committee 02/23/19
HB4 / SB619 – State Ethics Commission Although creation of the State Ethics Commission was approved by New Mexico voters in November, no action has been taken to actually implement this commission. STATUS: Headed for committees on which our local legislators sit, so give them a push.
HB 416 / SB 405 Medicaid Buy-In This provides a public option for healthcare in New Mexico. Would provide a stopgap until we can implement the Health Security Act. STATUS: SB 405 is in the Senate Finance Committee — which Senator Cisneros vice-chairs. And HB 416 is at House Appropriations and Finance — Rep Gonzales is a member.
SM5 / HM 54 Study State Bank Funds a study of whether a State Bank, as exists in North Dakota, would benefit New Mexico. STATUS: SM5 died on a tied vote in the Senate Rules Committee. The main opposition to this bill came from the Community banking industry, though it was mentioned in the hearing that North Dakota, which has a State Bank, has a thriving community bank environment. The bill was re-introduced as HM 54.
HB 55 National Popular Vote Gives New Mexico’s electoral votes to the national popular vote winner in Presidential elections. STATUS: Passed the House and is in the Senate Rules Committee (SRC). Senator Cisneros, vice-chair of the SRC, is a sponsor of this bill, so thank him for leadership.
SB 50/HB84 Automatic Voter Registration at MVD and other public agencies Changes the current MVD practice from opt-in to opt-out. Both SB 50 & HB 84 (which passed the House) are in the Senate Rules Committee. Let Senator Cisneros, who is Vice Chair, know that you support these bills.
HB 86 Register and Vote on Election Day Technology now permits Election day voter registration. Passed the house and is now in Senate Rules Committee. Let Senator Cisneros, who is Vice Chair, know that you support this bill.
HB 55 Agreement to Elect President by Popular Vote This bill permits New Mexico to join 12 other states in the National Popular Vote compact (CO has a similar bill on their governor’s desk.) Along with many other voting rights bills, this one is in Senate Rules and has Senator Cisneros as a co-sponsor. Thank him for his leadership on this bill.
HB 57 Restore Felon Voting Rights Repeals automatic cancellation of voting registration after felony conviction of the voter. No action has been taken on this bill in its first committee placement: House State Elections and Indian Affairs Committee
SB3 Campaign Finance Reporting Requires reporting of independent expenditures (those not directly connected with a campaign), plus reporting of donors to such funds. Passed the Senate. In the House Judiciary Committee
HB 93 Open Primary for DTS
Would allow “Decline to State” voters to vote in the party primary of their choice. Would increase voter participation. In the House Judiciary Committee.
OPPOSE SB421 Tax Changes -OPPOSE (Cisneros) Would tax food Regressive tax. Increases food insecurity and hunger. This is criminal.
Plan may be to add this into the omnibus tax bill at the very end of the session. This was already done in NM and there was huge outcry against it.
HB 51 Decriminalize Abortion With a Supreme Court inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must get this 50 year old law off the books. STATUS: Passed the House and is in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
HB 278 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Declares an emergency re: missing/murdered Indigenous women crimes. Creates database and task force. STATUS: House Appropriations and Finance on which Rep. Gonzales sits. Let him know you support this bill.
SB 153 / HB 90 End of life Options Act Senator Cisneros receiving stiff opposition from representatives of the Catholic Church and has previously voted against this bill. STATUS: Waiting for House Floor Vote / Senate Public Affairs Committee
HB 398 Raise the Rate tabled in the House Commerce & Economic Development Committee. Three Democrats who received donations from oil and gas killed this bill.
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The most important climate bill this session is SB 489 Energy Transition Act This omnibus bill, put together by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, specifies Renewable Portfolio Standards. Provides a framework for utilities to transition to renewables and support for legacy industry workers. Bob feels strongly the targets are currently too low “A recipe for climate catastrophe.” We need 50% renewable by 2025 and 80% renewable by 2030. Green New Deal in the US Congress is the most exciting development. 100% renewable by 2030.
HB 210 Community Solar Act creates requirements for interconnection of community solar facilities. It has passed the House of Representatives and is in the Senate Conservation Committee
HB 612 Electric car tax credit — $2500 tax rebate for electric cars is in the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee
This is the decade of choice for humanity.
HB 28 a newly introduced bill that coordinates local governments into a sustainability and resilience council to develop a long-term sustainability plan for New Mexico. Not yet heard by the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Angry at Carlos Cisneros — and the proposed food tax.
Furious that the 3 Democrats that blocked HB 398 took donations from the industry. Send “Shame, Shame, Shame” email.
Paula Claycomb for Moms Demand Action
SB 8 passed the Senate (22-20) and is scheduled for the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee on 02/26/19
HB8 passed the House and is in the Senate Public Affairs Committee
(In New Mexico we have 200 post offices and 400+ gun dealers.)
HJR1 – Early Childhood Education Permanent Funds for Early Childhood Passed the House. Sitting in the Senate Rules Committee
The proposed 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolution that would have given the Sheriff discretion on which laws to enforce, was tabled by the Taos County Commission. Cristy points out that this resolution violates the New Mexico Constitution making gun laws purely a state matter. She also reminded the commissioners that if local officials act outside the scope of their office, they could be personally liable.
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