More than 250 people were part of a peaceful march through the streets of Portales on Monday in support of rights for illegal immigrants.
The march, which started shortly after 4 p.m. in the downtown area and went to Eastern New Mexico University and back, was comprised of people of all ages.
“We wanted to defend the rights of illegal immigrants,” said Miguel Ruvalcaba, a 40-year-old Clovis resident. Ruvalcaba was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and is a citizen of the United States. “Whether we are legal or illegal, we are here to support each other.”
Dominique Tixier, an Eastern New Mexico University senior, said the march is not just in support of Mexican immigrants, but immigrants from every country. Tixier said Congressional proposals to deport American-born people whose parents were born outside of the United States are wrong.
“It’s scary a lot of the rights they are trying to take away,” Tixier said. “My mom was born in Spain and my dad was born in France. How far in our family history do we have to go back to prove we are in this country legally?”
Fide Davalos, another ENMU student, was proud to see the strong turnout. Davalos said he has dual citizenship with Mexico and the U.S.
During the march, people held the American and Mexican flags and yelled out, “Si se puede,” a sentiment that means “Yes, we can.”
ENMU professor Geni Flores, a supporter of immigrant rights, said she was surprised at the turnout.
“I think with any social issue, people don’t stand up until it hits home,” said Flores, who added there are Hispanics who don’t feel immigrants should be in this country.
“I talked to a woman, who’s parents are from Mexico, and she feels strongly that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be here. She can’t empathize with their plight,” Flores said.
Flores said it’s about equal rights for all nationalities.
Some of the people in the march said they are tired of illegal immigrants being viewed as terrorists or the reasons for crimes.
Rosario Lopez said people don’t talk about the good things immigrants have helped with in this country, including defending the nation.
Lopez said her children, Lisa Lambert, 25, and Derek Lambert, 24, are serving in the U.S. Air Force.