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NM groups vow to defend immigrants, refugees

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Advocates for undocumented immigrants spoke in opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive orders on Wednesday, vowing to use civil protest, local legislation and legal action to fight attempts to step up immigration enforcement.

About 50 members of community and faith groups predicted that New Mexicans would continue to defend and protect immigrant and refugee communities.

“We wholeheartedly believe that New Mexicans rejected Trump’s hateful, xenophobic agenda in November,” said Rachel LaZar, executive director of El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, an immigrant advocacy group.

“We are going to use every tool available to us, from organizing to passing and strengthening local policies to the use of strategic litigation,” to oppose Trump’s policies, she said.

LaZar and others spoke at a news conference at the El Centro office in Albuquerque just hours after Trump signed two executive orders intended to strengthen the border and crack down on illegal immigration into the U.S.

Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said he would use litigation to oppose any efforts to require local governments to enforce federal immigration policy.

“Our state Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity, and we will do everything in our power to ensure those protections are felt by every New Mexican,” Simonson said.

Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis said that local law prohibits the use of city resources to identify people who violate federal immigration policies.

“It would be a mistake for Albuquerque to buy into the new administration’s rhetoric and divisive agenda,” Davis said.

Jessica Rodriguez, who identified herself as an Albuquerque businesswoman and the mother of two young daughters, said political strength comes from the people, not Washington, D.C.

“An attack on immigrant communities is an attack on all of us,” Rodriguez, a Spanish speaker, said through an interpreter.

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