ACLU anticipates problems at the border
Sun News Report
Las Cruces Sun-News
The ACLU will open an office in Las Cruces in the next 12 to 18 months in anticipation of civil-rights problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The group also plans to open a Santa Fe office.
The ACLU has an office in Albuquerque and six other chapters across the state.
A $1.3 million investment from the American Civil Liberties Union headquarters in Washington, D.C., will make the expansion possible, executive director Peter Simonson said.
The office in Las Cruces will become the organization's only location along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"It is a full expansion. The office on the border is an idea that has been brewing for two to three years now. It was to anticipate the military forces on the border and the Minutemen," said Simonson. "We're likely to see possibilities of civil rights abuses; it's just a statistical fact given that immigrants are so disparaged by the mainstream media and by the popular view of U.S. citizens."
The office in Las Cruces will carry out a regional mission to defend people's rights, especially those of immigrants in the border zone, instead of doing it from Albuquerque, Simonson said.
From Las Cruces, the ACLU will also work with affiliates in Arizona and Texas and coordinate closely with the National ACLU Immigrant Rights Project.
Simonson believes that there will still be a need to have a watch group monitor activities on the border a year from now.
"Whatever Congress passes in regards to immigration will include a significant border security component," he said. "This creates a potential for problems."
The office in Santa Fe will open after the one in Las Cruces is ready to begin operations. It will focus on supporting advocacy efforts in the state Legislature and addressing education issues in northern New Mexico.