On Nov 12, Santa Feans gathered downtown to show solidarity and support for immigrant families in the aftermath of the recent presidential election. The Santa Fe Dreamers Project photographed the faces of nearly 1,000 supporters.
The nonprofit Santa Fe Dreamers Project provides legal aid to young immigrants and immigrant families. While the organization does not yet know how the photos will be used, director and founder Allegra Love believes that showcasing local support for immigrant families will help them feel safe, despite the uncertain future. Love has dedicated her career as a lawyer to helping undocumented families access the tools they need for educational and economic success over the past four years, but it is only in the past 18 months that she established the Santa Fe Dreamers Project.
Through the organization, Love has been able to not only expand her own involvement in protecting children and families from deportation, but to bring other legal aides and volunteers to the cause. “The kids across our country have been traumatized by the election of Trump,” Love says. While Santa Fe has always been a pro-immigrant city and has recently been reaffirmed as a sanctuary by Mayor Javier Gonzales, Love says it can be difficult to assuage the fears of those who could lose everything overnight.
For the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, the stability of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals established by Obama in 2012 is in question. DACA protects undocumented immigrants who entered the country before they were 16 years old from deportation and enables them to get work authorization. “[We want to] protect them from our new president’s policies,” Love says. The organization fears Trump’s first task after inauguration will be to repeal the executive action. While the organization intends to go forward with the same resolve it has always had, Love knows that they will have to respond to how the country will shift. “I’m a lawyer,” Love says. “I’m only allowed to be so radical. We have to do for our clients what is within the boundaries of the law, and the law is going to change. We elected a white nationalist demagogue to our highest office.”
While it is important to Love to protect undocumented immigrants from the traumas of deportation, she also believes the entirety of the country will suffer if deportations are enforced. “[The] American Right has decided that they are anti-immigrant,” she says. “Pro-immigration means pro-family, pro-business, and pro economic growth.” For Love, one can recognize and reap the benefits of immigration without sacrificing patriotism or national security. Love refers to a situation in which stricter punishments were inflicted on those who hired undocumented workers that resulted in a dip in agricultural success. “The fruit was literally rotting on the vines because there was nobody to pick it.”
For many communities across the country, it is not always clear the conditions that exist for those trying to cross the Mexican/American border. Love and her fellow legal aides travel to family detention centers to provide counsel for immigrants seeking asylum in America. “My colleagues and I have to hold the burden of what we see and hear in that facility,” Love says. No cameras are allowed beyond security and any webcams must be covered on laptops. Love knows that if the rest of the country could witness the conditions families are left in, the discussion about immigration would change entirely. “It hasn’t captured the imagination of our country that we jail babies on our border. There are no words for when you see a baby incarcerated.”
Going forward, Santa Fe Dreamers community will continue to focus on protecting vulnerable, undocumented children. “Kids in pain is something that only the worst among us can stomach,” Love says. She believes that no matter a person’s political leaning, there is a unanimous, biological urge to protect children. “That’s what’s happening with this election. Kids are getting hurt.”
Visit the website for more information on future projects and to get involved with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project.