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A Chance for Economic Growth and Social Justice

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Living in Chaparral, New Mexico, I have seen firsthand the devastating impact that detention centers have had on my community. For years now, my community has been forced to deal with the constant fear of families being separated due to their legal status. When families are separated or an immigrant individual is detained, they are sent to a detention center like the one built in my hometown, the Otero County Prison Facility.

When the detention center was first built, it was advertised that it would bring economic growth to our community and provide a safe and humane place for its detainees. However, from what I have heard and seen, it is quite the opposite. We have had these facilities in my community for over 20 years now, and I have only seen a minute change in our economic growth since the detention center opened. The truth is that these facilities have only brought pain and misery to my community.

I have heard countless stories of families being separated and detainees being treated in an inhumane manner. I have even heard of detainees taking their own lives due to the horrific experiences they have faced in these facilities. It is heartbreaking to know that such a horrific place exists in my hometown.

It is not just the stories that upset me, it is also the fact that hate towards immigrant communities is something that is permitted and has been going on for years now. It is upsetting to see that a facility like this is in my community, and it makes me and others in our community upset and uneasy. We hope that one day we can close it down.

After joining the New Mexico Dream Team, I was educated and made aware of what the detention center is really like. I did my own research and read articles about the atrocities that take place in these detention centers. It is clear that these facilities bring nothing but pain and misery to innocent civilians.

My community deserves better than a privately-owned detention center that only brings pain and misery. We deserve resources such as sidewalks, paved roads, and more schools for our students. We need to move forward economically, creating more jobs for our citizens. The fact that such a facility exists in our community is preventing us from moving forward and creating a better future for ourselves and our families.

That is why I am advocating for Senate Bill 172, which seeks to eliminate immigration detention centers in Cibola, Otero, and Torrance counties. I urge lawmakers to support this bill and help us move away from an economy based on private detention centers. We need to focus on creating a better future for ourselves and our community.

It is time for us to come together as a community and fight for what is right –a future that is free from hate and fear, and one that is full of hope and opportunity. I invite you to contact your legislator and ask them to support SB 172 today, I believe everyone deserves dignity.

Eliha Hernandez is a member of the NM Dream Team living in Chaparral, NM.

Eliha Hernandez is a member of the NM Dream Team living in Chaparral, NM.