Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By David Grieder
Staff writer 

Rights group protests recent ICE tactics


CLOVIS — A statewide immigrant rights group has spoken out on reports of “horrible tactics” implemented last week by federal agents in Clovis, voicing concern for the “ripple effects” of disrupting the social and economic fabric of communities in eastern New Mexico.

“At least eight field agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in four unmarked vehicles arrived at dozens of homes (in Clovis) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday banging loudly on doors and asking residents about their immigration status. At least eight residents, many of them long-time dairy workers, were detained,” said a press release from “Somos un Pueblo Unido,” a non-profit with membership teams in 10 counties and locations in Santa Fe and Roswell.

ICE representatives contacted Friday did not respond to confirm details of the reported federal activity last week.

On Friday, over 100 immigrant workers and families from communities including Hobbs and Clovis joined “Somos” in a protest outside the federal courthouse in Roswell, where organizers say ICE opened an office early this year.

“One of the primary messages that they wanted to send there was to remind ICE that we're not going to allow them to make terrorizing families normal in eastern New Mexico,” said Emmanuelle “Neza” Leal-Sanchez, a “Somos” Communications Coordinator. “We haven’t seen these types of horrible tactics in a long time, so that’s why folks came together (Friday) to protest.”

According to some Clovis residents, those tactics included aggressive solicitation at city homes and intimidation of detained persons.

“I was taking a shower when ICE knocked on my door looking for someone else,” said Maria Ceniceros, a 24-year Clovis resident quoted in the “Somos” press release. “My 14-year old son let them in, and they began questioning my entire family. Minutes later they were taking me away right in front of my children."

Elizabeth Bustamante said her brother, a three-year Clovis resident with no criminal history, was one of six dairy workers detained during the reported ICE activity. He was taken into ICE custody Wednesday from a residence on Fourth Street, she said.

For almost three days of “uncertainty and panic,” Bustamante heard no updates about her brother’s status.

On Saturday morning she received a call from her brother, who was in a detention center in Juarez, Mexico and preparing to get on a 30-hour bus ride back to Oaxaca.

On that phone call, he told her ICE agents in Roswell talked him into signing a voluntary deportation order, she said.

“(ICE is) roaming our streets, banging on our doors, traumatizing our children and separating our families,” said Blanca Torres, a “Somos” affiliate quoted in the press release. “Everyone is scared. Dairy workers don’t want to go to work. Businesses are empty. Our economy is really going to suffer.”

On Friday, Torres told The News that some of those detained last week still have homes and vehicles to pay for and families to support.

“The immigrant families are at stake, but what’s also at stake is the economy of these rural communities,” said Leal-Sanchez. “The vast majority of the people who work in the dairies are immigrants.”

“The reality is that immigrant families are a very crucial part of our community and our economy here in New Mexico,” he continued, emphasizing the “ripple effects” created by a panic in a community.

“The really inspirational part of what’s happening in Clovis is that a majority of people...remember that they have a right to not open the door to ICE agents. They have a right to not even speak to ICE agents,” he said. “Many people were detained this week, but a lot more people were safe because they knew and exercised their rights...”

“It’s a hard time for our community,” said Marina Piña, another “Somos” organizer, “But our community is very courageous.”


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