- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Immigrant advocates in New Mexico denounced Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration plan to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

Activists from around the immigrant-friendly border state vowed to fight any effort to deport immigrants living in the country illegally and said they would be active in the upcoming presidential election.

“We are very disappointed by the Supreme Court’s split decision and as a movement of faith leaders, we believe the ruling further marginalizes the immigrant community and pushes families deeper into darkness,” said Johana Bencomo of the Las Cruces-based advocacy group New Mexico Comunidades en Accion y de Fe.

University of New Mexico graduate student Alejandro Mendiaz-Rivera, 26, who has temporary relief as an immigrant student, said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling but still was disappointed.

“I’m more afraid, and I continue to be more afraid, for my family member that won’t be able to apply for DAPA and DACA Plus,” said Mendiaz-Rivera, referring to the acronyms of various Obama executive orders.

Immigrant groups said they would hold workshops around the state to help those affected by the ruling understand what it means to them.

Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor, said Obama never had the authority in the first place to issue an executive order to protect immigrants living in the country illegally.

“Rather than deliver on his promise to work in a bipartisan way and pass comprehensive immigration reform his first year, when he had complete control of Congress, the president did nothing for years and then tried waving around a magic pen to give defacto citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants,” Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan said.

Western New Mexico University, a school that has drawn national attention for openly recruiting immigrant students living in the country illegally known as DREAMers, said Thursday there would be no change in policy.

“WNMU will continue to be an open, accepting university to all students who are searching to complete their dreams of higher education,” said school spokesman Abraham Villarreal.

Ruben Palomino, a member of the immigrant advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido in Roswell, New Mexico, said he could have applied for temporary deportation relief before the ruling. But he said the high court decision didn’t end any hope Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“In Roswell, we will continue helping eligible immigrants to become citizens and continue to knock on doors to get out the vote,” he said.

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .

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