New Mexico is not a swing state in the 2012 presidential election, but the state may provide a preview of some future political trends around the country. I reported on the history and demographics of New Mexico for NPR’s Latino USA: The New Mexico Difference
I profiled New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez for the nationally syndicated radio program Latino USA. Governor Martinez is the first Latina governor in the country. She’s also getting a lot of attention from the national Republican Party this year.
In the Latino USA profile, we mention a recent Newsweek/the Daily Beast profile of Martinez: What New Mexico’s Governor Can Teach the GOP. Governor Martinez’s stance on immigration in that article was on people’s minds and it will be interesting to see how she approaches immigration issues in the future, both in the 2012 elections and beyond.
New Mexico has flown under the radar for years in the national immigration debate. Maybe it’s the state’s small population of about 2 million residents. It might also be the unique demographics – about 44% of New Mexicans identify as Hispanic or Latino. State and local leaders, especially in northern New Mexico, have adopted policies to protect immigrants from discrimination. New Mexico also currently lets anyone get a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. But, some immigrants’ rights advocates are raising concerns that federal policies and local politics are hurting the state’s tolerant culture.
I did two stories for KUNM as part of my fellowship with the Institute for Justice and Journalism’s Immigration in the Heartland program.
Immigration is a profoundly human experience. That’s what keeps pulling me toward this topic as a reporter.
This year, I’m focusing on immigration as a fellow with the Institute for Justice and Journalism. In March, I attended a week-long training program in Oklahoma City and Dallas. The other reporters were from states like Florida, Iowa, Colorado and Illinois. We learned about immigration law, research and census data and met with teens and families who shared their experiences of living in the U.S. without legal papers.
Back in Albuquerque, I’m looking for perspectives on immigration in New Mexico.
Albuquerque has a small but growing population of Iraqi residents. Many of them have been resettled in New Mexico as refugees. They have to overcome differences in language and culture, but many are also finding it difficult to start over after leaving behind careers and wealth in Iraq.
The One Million Bones project aims to give people a tangible way to help raise awareness about genocide and help prevent it. The Albuquerque-based project asks people to craft a bone and donate 5 dollars. I was drawn to the program when it launched last year. The vision to create a display of a million bones in Washington D.C sounds a little bit gruesome but the creator is also incredibly hopeful about how empowering people to talk about genocide might lead to real change. My story on KUNM focused on how the project is being used in local classrooms.
A little known program called the U Visa is giving some undocumented people a chance to start a new life in the US. But, there’s a catch.
The U Visa is only available for victims of violent crimes and they have to take the risk of reporting those crimes first before they are eligible for the program. While reporting for KUNM, I found that many of the applicants in New Mexico are women who have been abused by their husbands or boyfriends.