Heinrich says it's time to "reclaim the narrative" about our border lands and communities

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Today, a coalition of immigrant rights, civil rights, and conservation-led organizations delivered a letter to U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich applauding his efforts to lift up the story seldom told about border communities.

In his May 1st remarks commemorating Immigrant Right’s Day, Sen.Heinrich shared:

“As someone who represents border communities, it is time to reclaim a narrative about what the American border with Mexico is really all about. It is time to tell the stories of the communities…They are communities of quality. They are communities that in many cases, from one side of that border to the other, you start at San Diego and Tucson, Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, often times not only have so much vibrancy but have lower crime rates than much of the country. But that is not the narrative we hear come out of the White House. It’s not the narrative we hear come out of the radios in too many places across this nation today.”

Today’s letter is the latest in ongoing collaborations between the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights, Comunidades en Accion y de Fe (NM CAFÉ), NM Wildlife Federation, and Southwest Environmental Center that oppose President Trump’s proposal to expand the border wall, his deportation force, and immigrant detention.

“Trump’s proposed border wall would pass through some of the most biologically diverse regions in the U.S., including the bootheel of New Mexico and the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, destroying habitats, disrupting migration corridors, and impacting hundreds if not thousands of species,” said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center. “Human communities and animal populations are both harmed by the unnecessary militarization of our border, whether it’s new walls or more boots on the ground. On behalf of the wildlife and wild places we work to protect, we thank Sen. Heinrich for his stance.”

“We thank Sen. Heinrich for highlighting the safety and vibrancy of border communities. Our vibrancy lies in the remarkable diversity of people who call this region home,” said Cynthia Pompa, field organizer for the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights. “That’s why we take offense to divisive rhetoric about building walls or expanding Border Patrol’s discriminatory policing. Our safety depends on building trust in law enforcement, and holding border agents accountable to respecting human rights is vital to community trust.”

“Our family, friends, and neighbors feel terrorized by their own government. They are afraid to go to the grocery store, take their children to school, visit places of worship, or call the police,” stated Sarah Silva, executive director of NM CAFÉ. “We find ourselves in a moral moment for our country that requires something new of all of us. When our community and our lands are vilified, we need champions. We applaud Sen. Heinrich’s words and leadership.”

“Wildlife and culture don’t stop at borders, and they are both critical to our identity as New Mexicans,” added Gabe Vasquez, southern New Mexico coordinator for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Trump’s wall threatens both of those things. The devastation to wildlife and wildlife habitat would be significant. This border wall would rob New Mexico of many of its hunting opportunities and traditions along the border -- a tremendous asset enjoyed by generations of people on both sides of the border. We thank Sen. Heinrich for speaking loudly against Trump’s wall and the negative consequences it would have on the people of New Mexico.”

Today’s letter further urges Sen. Heinrich “to ensure New Mexico and we, as border stakeholders, have seats at the table when policy and budgetary decisions are made that impact our health, safety, rights and environments.”

The coalition letter to Sen. Heinrich can be found here.

Watch Sen.Heinrich’s full remarks here: https://youtu.be/J79P3BPnMtU


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