Immigrant Crisis Deepens, Vigils Staged in Protest, Plus a Report on NM Political Developments


Much is happening across the state. We repor on how Democratic challengers are springing up in most every one of the eight Senate districts where their Senator refused to protect a woman’s right to choose. We also offer commentary on the vigils scheduled for tonight across the country and we pose the question:  What more need we do to resist what could be a slow slide toward fascism?

Events, Actions & Opportunities

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  • Friday, July 12, Vigils Across the State, 7:30-9pm in Santa Fe, times vary by community; Details on ABQ, Estancia, Taos, and El Paso
  • Saturday, July 13, 8:30am, Retake Our Democracy on KSFR, 101.1 FM.  This week we speak with Darien Fernandez, former Democratic Chair of Taos County Democrats and challenging state Senator Carlos Cisneros, another of the gang of eight Democratic Senators who undermined the state’s efforts to decriminalize abortion. It was a tremendous interview.
  • Saturday, July 13, 2-4pm, EarthCare and Youth Climate Justice Activists Planning Meeting
  • Saturday, July 20 in ABQ, Red Nation Protest of Leasing of 40,000 Acres of Stolen Navajo Land
  • July 23, 7pm-9pm, Retake Our Democracy in Embudo Valley
  • Aug 6, 6:30-8::30 Retake Our Democracy Organizing Meeting in Santa Fe

For details on all these events, click here.

Thoughts on the Vigils Across the State. I drove to ABQ yesterday to meet with advocates from throughout the state to begin strategizing about the 2020 primary.  On the way I was listening to news on the radio. In four separate reports I heard about the plan for mass deportation arrests beginning this weekend; deplorable conditions in child detention centers; and then a report about a church in Ohio that has provided sanctuary for an asylum seeker since last August. That person has been levied a $400,000 fine for avoiding detention; and lastly, Trump’s threat to use an executive action to include a question about immigration status in the census survey (at least this is dead….for now).  This was on a show that was not focused on immigration, just a 30 minute news broadcast where interspersed between these immigration reports were segments on flooding in New Orleans, Congressional subpoenas, and the Pelosi-AOC squabble. My point is that our Nation is at war on all fronts with the kinds of people, immigrants, who made this country. Every damn one of us sprang from immigrants, save the indigenous peoples whose culture we have tried to destroy and whose land we have stolen. What have we become?

Frankly, while I applaud tonight’s Lights for Liberty and the vigils that will be staged across the country, I feel that the response is insufficient. What we are facing, on so many fronts, looks an awful lot like a slow slide to fascism with immigrants identified as the source of the economic and social malaise experienced by many low-income individuals and families across the nation– a cheap and easy way to distract from the real source of the malaise.  But there are so many other signs: Trump is now taking aim at all mainstream media, even Fox and yesterday hosted a gathering of some of the most racist, homophobic social media platforms in the nation….at the White House, charging them up and filling them with bile (as if they needed more encouragement). In the same day, he tweeted about leaving office in 10-14 years, called Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas, and Biden “Sleepy Joe.” He threatened to defy the Supreme Court with an executive order to insist on including a question about immigration status in the census survey.

Vigils are the kind of action that can bring people together, but are inherently a passive action. I admit to not really understanding how we move from passivity to some form of very likely illegal actions to confront what is becoming more offensive by the day. Question of the day:  What can we do to actually challenge this insanity? 

I got an email from Santa Fe Dreamers Project last night. It included video and plans for a convening to hear updates on the immigration crisis and to discuss ways to address it. Look for the videos and a few words about the event in Sunday’s post, Sunday at the Movies.

Have You Ever Felt That Your Elected Officials Don’t Care About Your Views?  Well, according to a two-year study conducted by two Yale researchers reported in today’s New York Times, apparently they don’t.  

Over the past two years, we conducted a study to find out. We provided state legislators in the United States with access to highly detailed public opinion survey data — more detailed than almost all available opinion polls — about their constituents’ attitudes on gun control, infrastructure spending, abortion and many other policy issues. Afterward, we gauged the willingness of representatives to look at the data as well as how the data affected their perceptions of their constituents’ opinions.”

And what did they find?

What we found should alarm all Americans. An overwhelming majority of legislators were uninterested in learning about their constituents’ views. Perhaps more worrisome, however, was that when the legislators who did view the data were surveyed afterward, they were no better at understanding what their constituents wanted than legislators who had not looked at the data. For most politicians, voters’ views seemed almost irrelevant.”  To read the full NY Times report, click here. This is worth using one of your 5 or 10 free reads of the NY Times online. The report outlines how the study was conducted and some of the really stunning findings, e.g. when offered the opportunity to review a detailed analysis of their constituents’ views on a range of issues, only 11% even bothered to open the document. And that was hardly the worst of the news.

And this is precisely why Retake Our Democracy has a legislative and an election strategy. We need to better understand the degree to which our legislators work to advance our priorities and then when they don’t (as the study above suggests most don’t), then we need to elect new legislators. This report being an apt transition to the next.

Neomi Martinez Parra Announces She Will Challenge Sen. John Arthur Smith.  On the same day we previewed our 2019 Report Card that zeroes in on Senator Smith’s role in undermining good legislation for years, he got more bad news: a challenge from a highly respected, well-known Democrat. Martinez Parra who served as vice-chair of the state Democratic Party of New Mexico. This will be a race we will be watching closely and while our Outreach and Organizing Action Team will be organizing throughout the state, a particular focus will be to organize in Senate Districts where their Senators voted against HB 51, Decriminalize Abortion.  Senator Smith’s district is among those being targeted. So if you want to help change the political calculus of the Roundhouse, read on, as we have action teams at ready to get the work done and coordinators in place to organize the work, so it is time to get to work.  At my meeting in ABQ, I heard from others of races forming in seven of the eight targeted Senate Districts. Stay Tuned.  But also, now is the time to get active.

Retake Our Democracy in Taos and Embudo and Update on Action Teams.  Oh my! This past Monday evening, Taos turned out and packed the Democratic Party headquarters to hear Roxanne and I preview the Report Card, outline Retake’s strategies, engage in dialog about the unique economic, environmental and political challenges faced by Taos residents and to hear about the local grassroots efforts addressing those challenges. It was a great evening that really underscores the value of visits to other parts of the state, part of the reason for our July 23rd in Embudo Valley with other visits to come.  We will have video from that meeting for Sunday at the Movies.

Take Action with Retake.  Retake Leadership clarified its strategic direction for the next 18 months, along with establishing four action teams to advance those strategies. We have updated our Response Network site to allow people from throughout the state to sign up to be part of this work. Even if you had signed on to the Response Network before, the options for involvement have changed given the shift in strategic direction. So it would be a good idea to visit the site, examine options and check off where you might want to be involved.  You do not have to commit to attending meetings or commit to a high level of involvement. In fact, by checking a box, you are only committing to talking with one of our Action Team Coordinators about the work to be done and seeing if there is a fit. And every one of the roles can definitely be performed from other parts of the state. In fact, that is where we need volunteers most.  We have two coordinators for each of three teams: organizing and outreach, marketing and media, and climate action and are closing in on identifying a coordinator for research.  So, click here to check out the volunteer options.

In closing, it feels as if Retake Our Democracy is reaching a stage where we could grow exponentially …OR NOT. We have a Report Card being published on Monday that should garner significant attention; we have strategies and teams with coordinators in place ready to build upon that surge in interest; and we have a highly functional online platform (Nation Builder) ready to facilitate all the work. It has taken two and a half years to get to this point. We are ready.  Are you?

In solidarity,   Paul & Roxanne





Categories: Personal & Collective Action, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform, Uncategorized

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11 replies

  1. what would happen if we all refused to pay our taxes? what would happen if there was a general strike one day of every month, with nearly every worker taking part? what would happen if we all stood in solidarity with each other across professions, across economic class, across ethnicity, across gender? i believe the impact would be resounding…

    • Maia, the ultimate strike would be for mortgage holders to delay payment of their bill by 2 months (you will have to pay a penalty). And to not pay health insurance, car insurance, and any credit card bills for two months. This would bring our debt-based economy to a halt quickly. The rich don’t know how to not spend, but the poor and middle class do know how to go without. Take the funds not paid, and make a massive payment to each in the third month. This will effect your credit rating — which is based on how much you have and don’t need. But truly this action, done on a massive scale of 10 million or more who agree to take this action, will call attention to the imbalance of power and the power of the people. Withholding our approval to the damage of fossil-fuel economics does not seem to make a difference. STopping the economic captivity of 99% of citizens, will be a huge wake up call to the 1%. We have the power to say NO.

  2. Hi Roxanne and Paul. I do not sense, on any level, a slow slide to fascism. Instead, I feel like I am sitting in the DeLorean headed back toward the future. The present almost instantly becomes the past. A cursory look at human behavior for 6k years or so shows one persistent pattern: the past is still present today. Symptoms have changed, the core disease has not.

    You both ask; what can be done to counter the insanity?. A very recent article on probabilities as related to the crash of sustainability and biodiversity concluded that once a certain threshold is reached, planetary systems will just take over, human behaviors will be swept aside, and chaos will ensue, counter-balancing the results of one insane animal’s deviance.

    Physics will prevail, at the massive expense of 1.4 billion years of tireless and painful evolution toward a bio-diverse biology. Non-human life will be the big loser. Human life will play the fool in its own tragi-comedy, the idiots of the solar system, if not the galaxy.

    I look now, as I have since I was a kid, to my time sitting in trees, walking the warm sloughs and braided rivers of the wild, touching, smelling, hearing and watching Nature grow and struggle all around me The only solution to insanity is to nestle quietly in the bosom of the sane, feel its heartbeat, sense its rhythms, be overwhelmed by its tenacity and fierce resistance to chaos and annihilation, be touched by its necessary tenderness. To hear the crickets, feel the vibrations of the cicadae, smell the gentle graces of the flowers, watch the absolute perfection of birds in flight, that is my answer to your question.

    Intelligent life will prevail, or it will not. To surrender to the immensity of universal life force energy will reveal a path forward, and the strength to walk it, regardless of the outcome. If beauty is not enough, nothing will be enough. All things are impermanent.

    Mick Nickel

  3. I don’t have an account to So I can’t “like” Mr Nickels response. I find myself doing the same thing, sitting by the Acequia, watching the magpies, and little createrines. (Gaelic) I find myself pleasantly surprised, when a garter snake dashes out from the ditch-bank.

    On closer inspection the desert, and mountain soils are alive, and each step destroys a microcosm. In the desert and here in the mountains each bit of dirt is alive, with a symbiotic crust of organisms that have worked together for half a billion years.

    I worry for the mother bear and her 2 cubs, who was spotted up the canyon, I have found the bait, that unscrupulous poachers leave around for them. I shudder at the people putting the mysteries and beauty on social media, creating crowds of people and the destruction that follows.

    I find the trash from the big box stores, along riverbanks where children try to play. They avoid the broken glass, snags and worse. Mostly they stay home and dream of amusement parks, and only the most intrepid explore the outdoors. Occasionally I speak with a fisher-person, who exhibits fear, more afraid of angry people in the woods than the bears. I find the remnants of destruction everywhere, the banks of the Chama to the roadside river accesses.

    I try not to think of the toxic spills, and devastation that is just out of sight. The high winds this spring tore trees out by their roots, trees that have stood for a century. In the Jemez, the tree roots exposed obsidian flakes, left behind by a traveler, perhaps a millennia or five ago.

    Anyway I came across this today, Our politicians were silent about this, as they enriched themselves, their families and domestic partners. The same in DC, on the federal level. The mass media has not covered the damage they did here in this state. The people that were supposed to be representing us, were too enthralled with corporate money, and even when it was obvious that the children were effected, they did nothing. More than 2 decades of this corruption, and the results are really clear, yet they are in denial. Maybe they need a history lesson, step by step on how each compromise, and the compromises they are making now, due to the dependence on corporate money.

    Some of us witnessed the horror, inaction, and greed. We saw people die or have their lives ruined while, our local media, portrayed a different reality. A reality to make complacent wealthy home buyers, feel entitled. Now they want to cut down all of the trees, so some Mc mansion buyers , can feel safe and not have to worry about forest fires. Removing so many trees could impact the climate here, but no one is paying attention. Suddenly, they are pretending that planting trees, carbon taxes or nukes can save us from the Global Climate Change,reality that is already here. Thirty years ago, Santa Fe had massive ancient Cottonwoods, shading the street. They are gone now and no one noticed the deforestation. No one noticed the springs and watercourses that dried up, as the Santa Fe River scoured ever downward. There is a massive stump left downtown, a remnant left of the deforestation. No wonder the end times churches are proliferating here, and across the state and no one noticed that either.

  4. Whew. Fortunately I don’t live near a cliff from which to drive my car over. And besides, it’s too damn hot to go outdoors. Mick and Mary, to despair is not yet an option. Look at all the folks all over New Mexico that are joining forces with Retake to try and turn things around. A few elected representatives do listen to their constituents. Look no further than our wonderful Deb Haaland.

    Henny Youngman once said, “I am against political jokes. Too often they get elected to office.”

    John Toland said, “There are no simple lessons in history…It is human nature that repeats itself, not history.”

    But now and then things get so pathetically and severely horrible, that a critical mass change in consciousness occurs. And then change is possible. Perhaps not permanently. Two steps forward and one back. But a shift has been made.

    “A system cannot fail those is was never meant to protect” Van R. Newkirk II

    That’s why those entrenched eight Dems got to go. The old system, the status quo is destroying everything in it path. It used to be possible to look away. Not any more. It must evolve and so must we. Chin up!

  5. I agree that vigils are largely feel-good events. That is why the rally in Taos will include postcards writing, petitions and “actions” sheets.

  6. I remember a time when we did not need air conditioning in Santa Fe, there were only a few hot days every summer. Now every single new house needs energy intensive air conditioning, and older homes are retrofitting their swamp coolers, since they no longer work. All of this has been advertised as “Green” even though the only thing “green” Involved is the cash. Few of the new building are even aligned to the sun requiring even more energy for heating and cooling. So much of the “green’ building is a gimmick, a marketing concept not meaningful, at all. There are even more MC Mansion popping up in the hills around Santa Fe, requiring more roads, more paving, more fuel consumption, and more dead trees.

    I noticed that no one is paying attention to any of this, No one asks, who owns these databases and who has access, even right here in New Mexico. There are not really any enforceable laws, about the cross pollination here. No doubt they will not find many undocumented immigrants, but you can bet they will find new ways to monetize this data, or do what they did in 2016. Palantir also has unlimited access to Facebook, and Google.

  7. Mary. I thank you for your insightful comments. And I also wish to apologize for my attempt at levity in a previous response. It was really made for Paul and Roxanne and everyone up there in Santa Fe working so hard. It is difficult for all of us to hang on to some little bit of optimism. So easy to be consumed by it.

    I understand what you are saying. I live down river in Rio Rancho. It’s even hotter and more extreme down here. My UN-McMansion had swamp cooling the first 17 years we lived in it. Four years ago we made the switch. I live near the bosque. Before the Rio Grande was dammed, the bosque flooded in the spring. Gradually the cottonwoods are dying. It is a different ecosystem. I have observed it over two decades.

    This is the new “not normal”. Rougher times ahead and no true indication whether we will turn all this around. Everyday I see so many amazing groups for change. Many through my growing email list. I have sent a little bit of something to many and wish I could send more to so many others. I can’t compete with the Koch’s.

    But we can share our views together. Know that we are not alone together. And possibly make a change in our state together blossoming out into the nation and world.

    If you can, plant a tree in your yard. I have many on my little lot. But I would not recommend cottonwoods! Their roots are are destructive. Perhaps why they have disappeared from Sante Fe streets. In the new trees’s eventual shade, plant flowers.

  8. Stephen Farkash, I don’t have an account, so I can’t reply. Thanks, I have lots of things growing here, where I live. I am having quite the time with insects, snails and the occasional bear. The bears sneak up the hedgerows, and acequias, unseen. The beavers are having their way with some trees, but they deserve them.

    We are warily watching the Australian mining company, that figure they will move in, now that laws and regulations are meaningless. The same kind of mining company that made parts of Central America unlivable. They hire mercenaries, to keep the locals in line.

    It is really sad what they have done in the Albuquerque Bosque, allowed all of that building in it. The development down there is staggering. 30years ago, there was a dairy, meadows, and Bosque, now it is development after development. The dairy moved it’s operation down to the Las Uvas Valley and it is out of sight out of mind, where that milk comes from. When I was a kid and went to the dairy, cows actually lived in grass, now they live in their own filth.

    Further down the Rio Grande, they are trying to undo the destruction from years of dams, and the growth of invasive species. A few years ago, I thought they had made some progress with those Tamarisk Beetles, but the Tamarisk just grew back. In T Or C the Rio is really just an irrigation ditch, an ugly muddy hole, for part of the year. It was once a meandering river, shaded by cottonwoods.

    The vegetation species are changing, more invasive species, that thrive in drought, choking out the native vegetation. No one noticed the Cheatgrass, taking over Santa Fe, and local grazing land. It thrives in drought conditions, and is replacing the native grasses. A stand of this native grass near my house is four feet high, the way it looked 500 years ago, before the Europeans, ranching and over grazing.

    Last year that drought was Apocalyptic, we were all on the edge of a tinderbox. It felt as if any moment it could ignite. I spite of all of this they keep building, more roads, more traffic, more water. Parts of Santa Fe look just like Orange Country, they copied the developments out there, and just moved the houses closer together. These homes are for out of state retirees with money, who want to play wild west. Each one decorated like a stage front, for resale value. I have the unusual opportunity to see how people really live. I have been in the multi million dollar homes and in the ragged mobile homes, and out buildings without water and electricity, some local people without money have retired to. I have seen first hand what people go through in so called Public Housing, which benefits the rich landlords and not the people occupying them. No one thought to include any of “those people” in the “discussion” about “housing.”

    I was Downtown in Santa Fe the other day, and I asked “What is different.” In the 1970s there would have been posters or something as a protest. Today nothing, it could interfere with commerce, and facts are now controversial. Vandals tore down that sign on Old Santa Fe Trail, the one that expressed support for Palestinians, while there a few signs saying No To Hate. Out here, they proudly flew the confederate flag after the election,. One of Santa Fe’s bravest is in Ireland, protesting arms transports, and not much interest in any of that.

    One of the TV networks is running old selected footage of the immigration raids, riling up the populace. I watched as my neighbors were handcuffed, and their home and business were searched, and ransacked. When ICE did not have the authority, they called in other police agencies, in order to terrorize their sleeping children. There is a seamy underbelly here, one that no one paid attention to in years past. In Santa Fe there was a wall of denial.

    Gotta go, there are plums growing next to the the alfalfa field, where the gophers partied last year. The drought last year, helped them colonize more of the field.

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