Friday, April 3, 2009

Oasis of Hope Arises from Pain in the NM Desert

"Suffering is the sandpaper of our life. It does its work of shaping us. Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise." Ram Dass

Her voice broke and her eyes misted in pain as Sister Chabela recalled the immigration raid that ravaged this very poor, remote desert community in SW New Mexico two years ago. The Otero County Sheriff's Department deputies are said to have harassed and interrogated residents, and searched homes in Chaparral, NM while searching out undocumented immigrants. Speaking alternately in Spanish and English, the sister who has ministered here for eight years, recounted the horror of families ripped apart by immigration detention, leaving children stranded without parents and the community in deep distress.

photo caption: Immigration lawyer (left) and Catholic sister (right)

Last month two positive outcomes emerged from that pain.

1) A civil-rights violations suit is settled for $100,000

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit discuss the outcome. (RUBEN R RAMIREZ/EL PASO TIMES) 3/19/2009

"We wanted to make sure what happened in Otero in 2007 would not happen again," said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso TX. That is why fourteen plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Otero County, N.M., sheriff's deputies utilized racial profiling, unlawful stops and other civil-rights violations while targeting undocumented immigrants. The Department agreed to a settlement of $100,000 and to changes to its operational procedures, which activists said would help eliminate fears that deputies are enforcing federal immigration laws.

2) A Legal aid office opens in Chaparral, NM

Last week a Catholic Church-sponsored legal aid clinic that provides immigration assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, blessed their newly-opened a satellite office in Chaparral. A lawyer will staff the office two days a week, serving those she can and providing appropriate referrals to those she can't assist. This office is twinned with another satellite office also slated to operate two days per week in Anthony NM, the two offices providing a resource of assistance directly where it is most needed.

This week, a 60 mile/hour wind blew the desert sand outside, but at the Casa Maria Eugenia in Chaparral, a sprinkle of water blessing a new legal aid office symbolized that many good people working together can create an oasis in the desert.

The sandpaper of suffering became a font of new growth and hope.

cross-posted on The Sirens Chronicles
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


an average patriot said...

Hi B E
To me this is a controversial subject to say the least. We to me have to have immigrants but when you have children this crap goes on and it is the kids who always suffer. They are innocent.

I don't like those raids but without writing a book there is so much about this I do not like. The kids though, the kids, they pay the steepest price.

Libby said...

To me this is good news; I hope it will make a difference. Thanks for sharing.

Brother Tim said...

Ya know, it doesn't matter where you stand on the idea of illegal immigration. It's the jack-booted gestapo style of enforcement that scares the hell outta me.

Law enforcement, at ALL levels, has become so violent and heavy-handed that the only possible outcome will be extremely bloody.

This is analogous to the counter-insurgency tactics used in the Middle-east. Every one that's killed or severely injured creates 10 more.

It's a vicious circle that picks up steam each passing day.

When will we ever learn?

ThomasLB said...

Those are positive developments, but until the scapegoating of immigrants stops there's a danger it will happen again.

Border Explorer said...

James, I share your concern for the children and family disruption. From the tone of your comment it sounds like I don't understand your position on immigration reform. I hope to learn more about that.

Libby, thanks. I love that you read this blog.

Bro Tim: Whew, nicely stated! That comment was awesome.

Thomas: Yes. The anti-immigrant tenor seems to be deepening, I'm afraid. They need more resources like this legal office. We all have to be alert to advocate. The shootings in NY this week just sicken me--targeting an immigration center.

an average patriot said...

We need immigration and temporary visas with a chance to become a citizen. I am not a proponent of illegal immigration for numerous reasons.
They get health care where many life long citizens cannot. The once eradicate diseases have made a return with Illegals coming from South America unchecked!

Border Explorer said...

Hey, thanks for getting back to me with your thoughts on this, Jim. I, too, do not support or encourage illegal immigration. The U.S. needs to legislate a method to legally provide for the workers we count on from other countries. I await and insist on comprehensive immigration law reform.

And as for health care, that's another topic. It is a glaring hole in this country, no matter who you are. Unless you're nicely employed and/or wealthy. Normalizing immigrant status and adequately reimbursing their employment would ease your stated health care concerns and thereby help us all.

an average patriot said...

Hi B E
Obama is going to take on illegal immigration now. I hope to hell he doesn't legalize 12 million illegals. Here in Mass they want to give them drivers licenses. I think I said it to you a while ago but if you want to come in my house stand in line and use the front door. Do not sneak in because then you are the enemy!