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In the tradition of the Freedom Riders of the 1960's, immigrant families, faith leaders and allies from across the state are hitting the road on a caravan to Hobbs, Congressman Steve Pearce's hometown, for a large-scale demonstration on Oct. 6. The caravan, organized by Somos Un Pueblo Unido, caps unprecedented protest marches, prayer rallies, and town hall meetings that occurred in Pearce's district over the summer contesting Congressman's refusal to support a path to citizenship for immigrant families. The statewide caravan, "On the Road to Citizenship," is one of hundreds of actions taking place across the nation as part of the National Day of Action for Immigration Reform on Oct. 5-6 to pressure House Republicans to pass comprehensive immigration legislation this year.
Luz Elena Granados, of Farmington, will travel eight hours to Hobbs with the caravan. "The trip is worth every hour and worth the risk because the longer we wait for immigration reform and a path to citizenship, the more people will get deported and families will be separated. I'm riding because Pearce needs to know what it's like to live with this fear. He represents our families too.
Deacon, Jesus Herrera of Immaculate Conception Parish in Dexter will give the send off blessing for the riders and join in the caravan. "We continue the struggle to fulfill our values as Hispanic families who want to live in peace in this country. God is pleased when we follow his command to help those who are most in need. I'm riding to Pearce's hometown to urge him to put prejudice aside and welcome the stranger who is also his neighbor."
Xochitl Huerta of Hobbs has six U.S. born children worries that her husband, who often works 24-hour shifts in the oil fields, will not return home from work. We are part of this community," Huerta said. "My husband risks his life everyday doing a dangerous job. I'm afraid that he might get hurt or deported and never come home. We work hard, pay our taxes, and are buying a house like any other American but we live with uncertainty," Huerta said. "I'm participating because I want my children to feel secure and for us to be able to contribute to this country as citizens."
Pearce is the only New Mexico congressional representative who is holding back immigration reform with a path to citizenship. More than 12 percent of business owners in New Mexico are immigrants. According to a report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, from 2006 to 2010, immigrant-owed businesses generated almost $389 million in income for our state each year. The caravan will remind Pearce that immigrants are part of his pro-business agenda.
Earlier this week, 50 Hispanic and immigrant business owners met with Pearce in Belen. The group delivered 100 letters to the congressman urging him to support immigration reform with a path to citizenship that works for small businesses and strengthens local economies thus stabilizing the workforce. So far, the Congressman has skirted around the citizenship issue. He wants a temporary guest worker program for immigrant families who make a significant contribution to the prosperity of business and industry in his district. Somos Un Pueblo Unido and their affiliates will continue to press Pearce on his position.
Immigrant families, faith leaders, and allies from the counties of San Juan, McKinley, Taos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, Chavez, Curry, Roosevelt, Valencia, Socorro and Lea will participate in the caravan. Each community will join send-off rallies on Oct. 5. Caravan riders representing each county will go to Hobbs on Oct. 6 for a large-scale action at Ocotillo Park at 1:30 p.m., 5001 Jack Gomez Blvd.
The Santa Fe Send-off rally and candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. on Oct. 5 in front of the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 417 Agua Fria St.