By: Connor Currier/ New Mexico News Port
In the culturally rich and diverse landscape of New Mexico, the question of immigration takes center stage, prompting local residents to ponder and question the implications of the effects.
Yesenia Ruis, the Program Planning Manager for El Centro De La Raza at the University of New Mexico, explains why New Mexicans should pay attention to immigration.
“It’s a part of world news, not just UNM or New Mexico; it’s a big phenomenon that is happening in the United States,” Ruis said. “So yes, it’s important for people to be well aware, educated, and updated to see what’s happening around in the world and in this nation.”
Sophia Genovese, the Managing Attorney for the Asylum and Detention Programs at New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, shared her thoughts on why people should care about immigration.
“We should care about the legal processes that people are subjected to when they arrive here,” Genovese said. “We should care about immigration because it’s our family members, it’s our friends.”
She also noted that America is a special country to come to, and most people who grew up in the United States can take it for granted.
“It’s people we care about, and so many of us have the sheer dumb luck of being born within the United States,” Genovese said. “It doesn’t make sense to exclude so many who just want basic things like freedom and protection.”
The New Mexico Immigrant Law Center released statistics showing an increase in the number of reception calls throughout the last few years.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2023, a new historic high in numbers showed more than 2.5 million encounters of migrants occurring at the United States’ southern border, which topped the prior year’s record.
Since there is a national increase in immigration, New Mexico is going to have to take in some of these new incoming migrants and take care of them.
Ari Burks, a medical-legal fellow at the University of New Mexico School of Law, is associated with the UNM Border Justice Initiative. She said the program’s mission is to help educate students who want to learn more about immigration in the state.
“The Border Justice Initiative was started by UNM School of Law to improve the quality of immigrant lives here in New Mexico,” Burks said. “The program educates students on immigration law before they actually went out to practice.”
The Border Justice Initiative does not offer services in employment immigration law, but they do offer services as a program to help students find connections to other organizations that handle legal immigration issues and help out in some way.
Burks talked about how the program started to bring more awareness about immigration to the local communities around New Mexico, and their engagement has gone up from there.
Genovese wanted New Mexicans to resonate with the fact they must embrace the ongoing immigration issues and be ready to accept any new migrants.
“I think our local communities should begin to embrace the people who want to come here and start a better life for themselves,” Genovese said. “America, and especially New Mexico, are all made up of immigrants, and immigration issues affect all of us, like it or not.”