PVA Meeting Recap – April 25, 2013

Las Americas Works for Immigrant Rights

Katie Hudak, executive director, described the work of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, which covers family-based immigration, victims of crime including battered women, asylum cases, human trafficking, and immigration fraud. The center, located in El Paso, can and does serve clients from everywhere. One client, Emilio Gonzales, is an asylum seeker whose story is well known to PVA.

Katie explained that the El Paso port-of-entry sees the second highest number of people crossing into the United States by land, second only to San Diego. El Paso is also a major corridor for illegal crossings, and immigrants from around the world end up in El Paso through roundabout smuggling ways. Katie noted that El Paso is home to the fourth-most-difficult immigration judge in the United States, a judge who grants asylum to fewer than 4% of those who appeal.

The center welcomes volunteers and all sorts of contributions. Details are at las-americas.org.

Unified Action Update

Cheryl Frank, PVA’s unified action coordinator, thanked those who participated on the Legislative Response Team during the 2013 session and declared a unified action break for this month. She welcomed anyone with a unified action idea to submit a request to any member of the PVA executive committee.

Obamacare Will Be Good For New Mexico

Ken Murray, referring to the recent explosion at a fertilizer plant in West Texas in which 11 volunteer firefighters were killed, said it is worth remembering that Texas Governor Rick Perry has made drastic cuts to fire department funds for many years. Details of the draconian cuts are here.

On another note, Ken urged New Mexicans to support Obamacare and the insurance exchanges and stated unequivocally, “This is going to be good for New Mexicans.”

Starting in 2014, New Mexicans will be required to purchase one of the healthcare plans from a list of insurance exchange plans. Financial assistance will be available. Here are some links that answer practical questions about the health insurance exchanges:

http://healthreform.kff.org/profiles.aspx
http://healthreform.kff.org/the-animation.aspx
http://www.healthinsurance.org/new_mexico-state-health-insurance-exchange

For more information send email to Ken.

Just How Bad Is Our Water Situation?

Nancy Blecha, a drinking water regionalization specialist and safe drinking water advocate, emphasized that water is about to become an even greater concern in the southern Rio Grande Corridor.  She urged our local legislators to keep close tabs on the members of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. More on the the New Mexico water situation is in this article and this one.

For more information send email to Nancy.

High Priority Topics For Our Borderland

Susan Fitzgerald invited everyone to two events of special interest to our region. The first is a talk followed by refreshments. The second is a public gathering and prayer meeting—the bigger, the better.

Carlos Spector, an El Paso attorney specializing in immigration law, will speak at Temple Beth-El at an event open to the public.

Mexican Exiles and the Jewish Experience

Temple Beth-El
3980 Sonoma Springs Avenue
Sunday, April 28, 2 p.m.

 NM CAFé (Communities in Action and Faith) invites everyone to join DREAMers and their families in support of a comprehensive path to citizenship for all. Senator Martin Heinrich, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, and numerous community leaders will be in attendance.

Immigration Reform Community Prayer and Meeting
Wednesday, May 1, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Las Cruces Convention Center

For more information send email to Susan or call her at 575-647-1808. You can also send email to Café, call them at 575-618-6228, and visit their Web site.

Avenue Art Takes Place On the Pavement

Bob Diven, artistic director of Avenue Art New Mexico, invited everyone to enjoy the second annual street painting festival.

Street Painting Festival
Saturday, April 27, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Main Street in Downtown Las Cruces (south end)

Artists of all ages will create paintings in chalk on the street. Three guest artists (including Bob) create showcase paintings and children have a special area for playing and creating. All the paintings will be completed by 2 p.m. and winners will be announced at an award ceremony at 2:15 p.m.

You can see 45 beautiful photos from Avenue Art 2012 on Facebook. Full information about the day is at downtownlascruces.org.

You Are Invited to a Fundraiser for Sen. Tom Udall

At the behest of Representative Jeff Steinborn, Jane Grider invited everyone to attend a fundraiser for Senator Tom Udall. A contribution of $100 is suggested, not required.

Luncheon Fundraiser for U.S. Senator Tom Udall
Tuesday, April 30, noon to 1 p.m.
Nopalito’s Restaurant and Gallery
310 South Mesquite Street

For more information call Jeff Steinborn at 575-635-5675.

Rep. McCamley’s Take on the Roundhouse in Santa Fe

Since Representative Bill McCamley was in Ireland last month celebrating his birthday (friend him on Facebook to see the photographic evidence) and unable to participate in PVA’s legislative forum, he filled us in this month about his time in Santa Fe. He supported the minimum wage increase, background checks for guns, and several education bills. He also sat on the Taxation and Revenue Committee and offered to speak with anyone interested in the tax bill that passed seven minutes before the legislative session ended. Bill did not vote for the bill, which he characterized as a giveaway to corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Bill will be joining Representatives Phillip M. Archuleta, Doreen Gallegos, Jeff Steinborn, Rudolpho “Rudy” Martinez, and Mary Helen Garcia to open a Legislative Constituent Center, located at 132 N. Main Street, on the downtown mall in Las Cruces. The office will be open Monday through Friday and the last Saturday of every month. Walk-ins are welcome on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Appointments will be required on other days and can be made by calling 575-524-9136 or 575-496-8822. The center is funded entirely by voluntary donations and will be staffed by volunteers.

For more information send email to Bill.

Singing Out Chorus Issues Invitation

Judy Long announced that if you are interested hearing some beautiful vocal music, she will hand deliver your tickets for the Singing Out Chorus Spring Concert. The group is a mixed-voice chorus of gay and straight men and women who wish to entertain audiences while also calling attention to the social injustices that persist in our society.

Singing Out Chorus Spring Concert
Saturday, May 11, 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 12, 3 p.m.
Peace Lutheran Church

For more information send email to Judy.

It’s  an Off-Election Year But County Clerk’s Office Is Busy

Mario Jimenez, chief deputy clerk for Doña Ana County, announced that the county clerk’s office is keeping close watch on developments in New Mexico’s same-sex marriage license debate. County Clerk Lynn Ellins and Representative Bill McCamley have requested the attorney general’s opinion. Mario said the clerk’s office will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately if Attorney General King gives the go-ahead. (There is also a same-sex marriage case in state courts that is receiving national attention.)

Mario reported on two positive bills that passed during the legislative session. One bill allows currently registered voters to change their information online, thereby saving not only time but significant printing and postage costs. Another bill, HB219, passed by Nate Cote, will provide adequate staff and equipment for all polling places and insure that voters do not experience unreasonable delays when voting in primary and general elections.

For more information send email to Mario.

Can You Guess Who Loves His Job?

Newly appointed Supervisor of Elections for Doña Ana County Scott Krahling said he loves being at the forefront of democracy. He spoke of community outreach efforts to get people registered to vote and educated about their voting rights and opportunities. Scott welcomed suggestions for getting more voters registered.

For more information send email to Scott or call him at 575-525-6134.

Jason Marks Is Candidate for NM Attorney General in 2014

Jason Marks, who is running for Attorney General, said you won’t ever wonder where he stands on the issues. He said the super rich are just getting “super richer” and too many public officials are influenced by corporate interests. Jason asserted his intention to be the “People’s Attorney” and pointed to his record of serving the people on the Public Regulation Commission.

For more information send email to Jason, call him at 505-385-4435, and visit his Website for detailed information on his experience and policy positions.

Health Security for New Mexicans Act Is Not Giving Up

Ike Trevino gave an update on the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. The bills that the HSNMC put into the 2013 legislature made it “fairly far” through the legislative process, despite obstruction and “internal politics.” He thanked PVA members for calls and emails to their legislators in support of this well-crafted health care plan for all New Mexicans.

For more information send email to Ike.

Health Security Action Team

Margaret Mendoza invited concerned people to be part of a Health Security Act action team. The team members will write letters, get on the phone, and do whatever is necessary to get the Health Security Act out of committee and onto the floor for a full vote by New Mexico legislators. Once passed, the plan can be implemented in 2017, when New Mexico has the option to choose the best health care plan for our state.

Health Security Action Team Organizational Meeting
Monday, April 29, Noon
Golden Corral on Telshor

For more information send email to Margaret.

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