Families Belong Together rally demands reunification of families separated at border
Immigrants express fear about reporting crimes
FARMINGTON — More than 150 people lined the sidewalk in front of the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park today to demand change to national immigration policies as part of the nationwide Families Belong Together rallies.
The rallies were sparked by news of thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border. People at the rally demanded reunification of families that have been separated.
The local rally was organized by Indivisible San Juan and by Familias Por Justicia, a local branch of the advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Aztec Mayor Victor Snover held a sign that read “Abolish ICE.” Aztec City Commissioner Mark Lewis was also at the event.
“We are outraged at the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers who are coming here in the same ways that our forefathers came here,” said Laura Marshall, a member of the leadership team for Indivisible San Juan.
Marshall said her family came to the United States as refugees from Russia and Poland. Her husband, Stephen Clarke, is also descended from refugees.
“My grandmother would have been killed in Iran if she hadn’t been able to flee,” Clarke said.
Woman tells about her son's deportation
While the primary purpose of the rally was to urge a change in immigration policy, some demonstrators expressed concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity in San Juan County.
Dora Coronado Pino, a member of Familias Por Justicia, spoke about her son’s deportation.
Her son was detained after a San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputy pulled him over while he was driving his pregnant wife, who is a U.S. citizen, to the hospital in November, Coronado said. She said the officer stopped her son because he had an expired license. He was detained for three hours before immigration officials arrived.
Coronado said her son was deported to Mexico, where he has basically no family. She came to the United States with her son about 25 years ago when he was 2 years old.
Coronado told The Daily Times she fears for her son’s safety in Mexico. Her brother disappeared about a year ago after being deported from Albuquerque. She said he disappeared two months after being deported.
Coronado said she no longer feels safe calling police to report crimes.
Immigrants say they are afraid they will be separated from their children
Coronado's fears were echoed by other immigrants at the rally.
“I always thought that all my time in the United States was calm,” said Gloria Portillo, who came to the United States more than 20 years ago from Juarez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Portillo said that sense of calm changed with current immigration policies. Like Coronado, she said she now is afraid to report crimes to police.
She said she is afraid she could be separated from her son and daughter, both of whom were born in the United States.
Arely Caro, the director of San Juan College’s Latin American student support program ENLACE and the Herencia Latina Center, led the protesters in chants today. Caro is a DACA recipient who came to the United States when she was 2 years old. Her mother took her from their home in Chihuahua, Mexico, to the United States.
In December 2012, Caro applied for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals certification, which she received. She wore a black shirt with the word "Dreamer" written in white letters on the front.
“It was such an amazing feeling just knowing that I could go out and apply for a job,” Caro said.
Caro has a master’s degree in social work. She said if the DACA program is reversed, she could be considered an undocumented immigrant and won't be able to work.
Maria Martinez came to the United States a dozen years ago from Guadalajara, the capital city of the Mexican state Jalisco.
Martinez said she is afraid “that I will be separated from my children and taken to jail.”
Martinez has two daughters and a son who were born in Durango, Colorado.
“I want a better future for them,” she said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.