Migrant Rights Advocate to Head New ACLU of New Mexico Border Office

Affiliate: ACLU of New Mexico
June 20, 2007 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of New Mexico
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LAS CRUCES, NM – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico has named Maria Nape as the Director of a new ACLU office, located in the border town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, which will defend civil rights, especially of immigrants, in the border region. Nape has years of experience advocating for the rights of migrant farmworkers.

“I am thrilled to head up such an exciting and timely initiative for the ACLU,” Nape said. “The intensification of law enforcement on the border and growing reactionary attitudes towards immigrants around the country make the ACLU’s new border rights office a vital effort. I look forward to learning from other border groups how we can complement their work and help create an effective civil rights presence throughout the border corridor.”

Prior to joining the ACLU, Nape spent five years advocating for the rights of migrant farmworkers as Director of the Migrant Farmworker Project at Legal Services Organization of Indiana and as Executive Director of the Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County, Florida. She received her law degree from Indiana University and most recently served on the faculty of Florida Atlantic University’s School of Public Administration.

“Maria is a tremendous addition to our organization,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Her combination of legal experience and familiarity with the plight of immigrants will enable her to effectively lead the ACLU’s efforts in this new endeavor. We look forward to bolstering the presence of the ACLU in communities all along the border.”

When fully outfitted, the new ACLU office will house a staff of three who, in tandem with the National ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, support the border rights work of ACLU affiliates in Texas, Arizona, and San Diego. The office is part of a state-wide expansion of the ACLU of New Mexico’s facilities and a National ACLU plan to raise the capacity of ACLU affiliates in the middle part of the country to equal that of affiliates on the wealthier and more populous coasts.

Nape said, “Current reactionary laws against immigrants are not working. Nowhere is this more true than on the border. People are searched, deported, and sometimes even assaulted on the presumption that they are immigrants and in this country illegally. The goal of our border office is to combat these un-American practices and ensure that fairness and the promise of the Bill of Rights extends to everyone in the border region, regardless of their nation of origin.”

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