ACLU of New Mexico Reacts to Sweeps of Border Immigrant Communities
LAS CRUCES, NM - The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico condemned recent immigration raids by Otero and Doña Ana County Sheriff's deputies in the border towns of Chaparral and Vado today. The local police agencies are assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to conduct sweeps of immigrant neighborhoods, knocking on doors and checking identification. Authorities also are stopping motorists and entering private businesses.
The ACLU is investigating multiple reports that sheriff's deputies retrieved children from schools and entered homes without consent or warrants. The ACLU has filed public records requests with both sheriff's departments seeking information about the collaboration with federal immigration agencies.
"This is irresponsible policing," said Maria Nape, Director of the ACLU's Border Rights office. "Immigrants in these communities may never again trust that they can report crimes to sheriff's deputies, even if they are the victims. When local police become border patrol agents, it rips a hole in the fabric of public safety that takes years to mend. It's not just immigrants that are affected."
The raids stem from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program called "Operation Stonegarden" which gave New Mexico roughly $1.6 million in support of local law enforcement participation in immigration enforcement along the border. In total, the four Southwest border states received $12 million in grant awards.
"These raids are symptomatic of the same reactionary policies that have failed to address nationwide concerns about immigration for decades," Nape said. "Do we want to live in a country that makes life so intolerable for hundreds of thousands of families who live and work here that they leave? Or would we rather live in an America that brings immigrants out of the shadows of society and enables them to be taxpaying, contributing citizens?
The public records requests are available at: http://www.aclunm.org/News_Events/news_9_14_07.html