'The level at which Trump is proposing to carry out deportations and immigration enforcement is going to mean that immigration police authorities are going to play an ever-increasing role in all of our lives' - Peter Simonson, ACLU New Mexico
Fears of First Steps Toward a Police State
BY JOHNNY VIZCAINO
President Donald Trump is wasting no time pushing for a border wall and two controversial pipelines, but community leaders are wasting no time exercising their right to respond.
Earlier this week, the president signed an executive order green-lighting the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, by streamlining environmental reviews and expediting federal approval of infrastructure projects. On Jan. 25, Trump signed an executive order to increase border security and immigration enforcement.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan estimated that the wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, which is more than two times the entire budget of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s current budget.
At a news conference at El Centro De Igualdad, an immigrants’ rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union New Mexico condemned President Trump’s executive order on the wall and blasted “militarization” along the border. The two groups also condemned threatened revocation of federal funding to immigrant friendly municipalities.
ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson said that state and local law enforcement in New Mexico already have enough of their own issues to resolve without having to worry about federal mandates.
“You run the risk of (having) a police department, with a low degree of accountability, and officers taking it upon themselves to carry out what they think is aligned with the sense of Trump’s order and disregarding their commitment to community policing and protecting the entire community.”
While there is plenty of talk about the importance of borders to the preservation of a state, the road to a police state begins on a slippery slope, Simonson said. “The level at which Trump is proposing to carry out deportations and immigration enforcement is going to mean that immigration police authorities are going to play an ever-increasing role in all of our lives,” he said.
The order, intended in part to combat crime committed as a result of illegal immigration, may have a reverse effect, Simonson said. If members of certain communities don’t feel safe reaching out to law enforcement, everyone loses.
“If people don’t think that we aren’t all one community,” Simonson said regarding the interdependence and intersectionality that exist in a truly democratic, pluralistic American society, “they’re kidding themselves.”
New provisions will require the White House Council on Environmental Quality to determine ‘high priority’ projects in 30 days to boost the nation’s energy independence.
In response, the Red Nation, a local indigenous rights activist organization held a “divesting from DAPL” demonstration outside of Wells Fargo’s downtown branch, said Kodee Artis, organizer. “We’re here too, we have a voice here too,” he said.
Artis said NASA-led studies have discovered a “methane hotspot” in the Four Corners region caused by natural gas leaks from a few major emitters.
“Any response is necessary at this point,” said fellow organizer Jen Marley of the Red Nation. “It’s really going to come to the physical means of putting our bodies between the settler and his capital– that’s what happened at Standing Rock.”
Marley said the executive order is of high importance to the “checkerboard” Native territories of New Mexico. “All this shit is getting real,” Marley said.
“We will keep fighting like our ancestors did,”Artis said, “Resisting and being resilient at the same time, no matter what they throw at us, we’re going to fight it to matter what
“Maybe the next four years are going to be the toughest four years our generation will experience while we’re still young,” he said, “but our ancestors got through Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, all those bastards.”
Johnny Vizcaino is an ABQ Free Press Weekly journaism intern.