By Stevie R. Paz

This week, CAFé is in New Orleans at NetRoots Nation, participating in a panel with southern New Mexico partners – which we’ve dubbed the “Brown and Green coalition.”

We’re here this week to share our thoughts and ideas about what it is like to live in the borderlands. But more importantly, we want to make clear that today’s reality of a border wall, the separation of families, detention, and the private prison industry are the effects of a decades-long plan of taking incredible resources, all in the name of border security.

As I observe the climate injustices here in New Orleans, I can’t help but wonder where this city could be, had this country made the right investments prior to 2005?

Instead of billions of dollars going to secure a Southern border from “terrorists,” what could massive infrastructure for our Gulf Coast and other coastal areas do for these communities?

It is the same question that many of our CAFé leaders asked at our state capitol a few weeks ago. We sat in research meetings and listened to our Attorney General and Speaker of the House discuss issues of private prisons in New Mexico, and then later a hearing on what the private prison industry is doing to our community. For far too long, New Mexico has exploited our natural resources and poisoned our people – in the name of economic development.

But at what cost?

As we engage our community, we must determine what it is going to take to not only build power for our people, but to also reimagine a different New Mexico for all of us. One that prospers and innovates, but not at the expense of confining and poisoning our community.

Stevie R. Paz is the Operations and Logistics Manager for Faith In Action federation NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé). Photo Courtesy of NM CAFé.

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