Televised addresses to Congress and State of the Union speeches are often long on platitudes and short on specifics. It’s too bad, but we’ve come to expect that from politicians.
President Trump’s address this week fit into that category in many ways. But there was at least a thread or two of hope in some of his words about immigration. In taking a slightly more positive tone than normal, Trump appeared open to some changes in his immigration policy — a policy that has been the source of so much unease in communities across the country, including Taos County. He said he’s open to legal status for “some” undocumented immigrants. What that means is yet to be seen.
We cautiously applaud the opening and think the pressure should stay on lawmakers and politicians in Washington to compromise on immigration reform while also continuing to support individuals and families. We’re encouraged by Taos County’s recent support for a “sanctuary status,” as well as some town of Taos officials reaffirming their commitment, which has been on the books for several years. Santa Fe has taken a forceful lead on “sanctuary city” status, too, even in the face of potential loss of federal funding. Not all agree, but many Northern New Mexico residents support sanctuary status efforts.
New Mexico’s representatives in Washington get it, and we should continue to support them in efforts to push back on Trump. Sen. Tom Udall is troubled by the “divisive rhetoric about building a border wall [and] mounting a military operation to deport millions of people.” Sen. Martin Heinrich said very simply after Trump’s speech: “President Trump had an opportunity to unify the country tonight. Clearly, he did not seize it.” And from Rep. Ben Ray Luján, also very simply: “I remain troubled by this administration’s approach to immigration.”
To be sure, Taos County has undocumented immigrants living in its towns and villages. While the exact number is to come by, consider the recent meeting hosted by the organization “New Mexico Dream Team” at Enos García Elementary School. About 200 people showed up on a Friday night, concerned about themselves, their friends, colleagues and family members who are jarred by the rhetoric and jarred by the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation activity in Las Cruces and elsewhere. Trump and others have said they are mostly concerned with undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes, although the number of those who are violent has been vastly overstated.
As the anxiety level has risen substantially among undocumented immigrants, the New Mexico Dream Team and others have been providing information on available resources and legal options.
It’s in the best interest of those across the political spectrum for a sane compromise to be made. Undocumented workers in Taos County and across the country are a vital part of the economy. We want those who contribute in a positive way to remain part of the community. They are not faceless or inherently violent people. They are human beings who have been an integral part of the farming and ranching sectors, the service and hospitality industry and religious institutions across the Taos area. Keep the pressure on the politicians and keep supporting those who support the community at large.