LAS CRUCES – Sandra Montoya’s family was born too late.
There were no limits on how many people could enter the country until 1921, decades before the 45-year-old Montoya came to the country from Mexico and began the six-year process toward earning her citizenship in 2004.
Others in her family are still waiting.
“I’m legal, but I have family, friends that are suffering so much and separated from their children,” said Montoya, a restaurant worker. “It’s unjust. My sister is alone here with her children, while her husband has stayed in Mexico for three years. They talk on the telephone and write letters, but to come here? He has a lot of fear.”
Montoya and nearly 100 more lined Main Street in front of City Hall Monday to protest against a controversial Arizona law – but also to ask for larger immigration reforms from the federal government.
As it stands, the immigration system doesn’t work, said Jorge Castillo, a 45-year-old Pic Quik cashier.
“We come here to work,” he said. “We’re not criminals. They feel afraid to go to the stores, they feel afraid to report crimes.”
Mayor Ken Miyagishima, who initially spoke out against Arizona’s law, said that state’s subsequent legislation alleviated his concerns about racial profiling.
“Under the first one, it said all (police) needed was reasonable suspicion and I didn’t think that was right,” he said Monday. The second bill “said that if you got arrested, detained or stopped, then they could check your status.”
police officers in New Mexico don’t check immigration status, that check is already made on everyone booked into the Do a Ana County Detention Center.Either way, the current anger toward Mexican immigrants – who want to get their papers, work and pay taxes – is short-sighted and stupid, Montoya said.
“The United States was formed purely from immigrants,” she said. “The only natives of this country are those on the reservations. I don’t understand the discrimination when we all came from other countries. Why do we have to be treated like this?”
Ashley Meeks can be reached at (575) 541-5462