Written for NewMexicoWomen.Org June 2018 - Read Full Article Here.
“As I stare off into the crowd the majority of people are women: young, old, middle-aged, white, brown, transgender…” observed Johana Bencomo referring to her experience of leading over 400 border citizens to the wall in an act of loving and fierce resistance on June 2nd. She remarked that women understand, “how much we have to lose and what’s at stake.”
NewMexicoWomen.Org’s qualitative research in 2017 underscored that immigration is a social determinant of health for women and girls in our state. Discrimination based on immigrant status and language barriers, lead to huge workplace disparities, uncertain living conditions, paternalism, lack of access to healthcare, and a vulnerability to gender-based violence heightened by fear of reaching out to local authorities. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented immigrants crossing the border has resulted in over 2,000 children being separated from their families in the last few months, most of whom are seeking asylum in the United States. NMW.O’s research with our Southern New Mexico community partners told a story of discrimination and trauma endured by our border communities. If we want to advance the movement for gender justice, we must commit ourselves to building a society that does not criminalize people for seeking a safer, better life.
Our Southern New Mexico partners, like Comunidades en Acción y de Fé are leading the way in their commitment to border rights and gender justice by building local power and reclaiming the narratives told about their communities. We are honored to know the women that lead this work. Here is a story of the loving resistance led by Johana Bencomo and Cynthia Pompa, community partners from Southern New Mexico.
For over a year, four key organizations, including the Southwest Environmental Center, New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé, the ACLU for Border Rights and Immigration, and the NM Wildlife Federation have been working together to create a comprehensive narrative that reflects the reality of border communities from people to place. These organizations have brought expertise in community organizing, civil rights, and environmental sciences to the fight against advancing border militarization under Trump’s administration. On June 2nd they gathered in partnership with others including the Sierra Club and Detained Migrant Solidarity Community to take a stand, in Johana’s words, for “Our People, Our Land, Our Wildlife.” The action began in Santa Teresa, directly in front of a border wall built by the previous administration, and ended where new and more abrasive border walls are currently being constructed.