The Nicest Place in New Mexico: Las Cruces
NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2019 FINALIST
"Mi Casa Es Su Casa"
How would your city respond if 1,600 asylum seekers were sent there? In Las Cruces, they were greeted with food, shelter, and open arms.
In April 2019, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection began dropping off asylum seekers in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a city of about 100,000 just an hour from the U.S.–Mexico border. Because of “capacity issues,” the U.S. immigration agency said that it would be releasing migrants seeking asylum into New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, according to the Associated Press.
Welcoming more than 1,600 people who show up on your doorstep is not easy, but that’s exactly what Las Cruces did, and continues to do today. Thanks to the nearly $600,000 in city council funding, as well as generous donations, Las Cruces has been able to provide temporary housing, and the majority of the community has decided to accept these folks who have little and nowhere else to go.
Local churches, like El Calvario and Heart for the World, as well as other community organizations, held donation drives for things like food, clothes, and medical supplies.
Without being asked, community residents began hosting their own clothing and food drives, and even opening up their own homes and businesses to asylum seekers. Some volunteered at the housing facility themselves, others worked as language interpreters and office workers processing travel documents. Doctors provided medical services and lawyers assisted with legal issues, all free of charge.
For people who know the folks of Las Cruces, this outpouring of kindness won’t come as a surprise.
“Acts of kindness and compassion happen every day in Las Cruces,” says Steve Ramirez, an employee in the city communications office.
A nine-year-old boy held a lemonade stand to raise money for his sick grandfather over spring break. The community rallied behind the family, and surpassed the boy’s goal of $120, raising almost $30,000. Robert Paquette, a local resident who was homeless as a teenager, has raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for food and clothing for the homeless population in town.
Las Cruces is the nicest place in America because Las Crucens care to the core about hospitality; we offer a hand to our neighbors and we live by the mantra‚”mi casa, es su casa.”
Nice people make nice places, and there is no nicer place than the City of Crosses. From the folks who throw in a few extra roasted green chiles when you’re buying them directly from the roaster, to the runners who wave good morning to you as you pass them on your way to work—Las Cruces, New Mexico is FULL of nice people. Located in the southern part of the State of New Mexico, Las Cruces sits just about 45 minutes from Texas and Mexico. You’ll hear a lot of “hellos,” “good mornings,” “buenos dias,” “pleases,” and “gracias” while you’re here, all from smiling faces.
Las Crucens, also known as Cruceños, are nice to their neighbors when they see them at local grocery stores, to their friends at free downtown events and public parties at the park, and to fellow hikers on a half a million acres of protected lands—and that is just a daily part of life. But in the last many months, Cruceños have been exceptionally nice to complete and utter strangers, guests from foreign places that are simply passing through seeking asylum. Cruceños are buying toiletries, medicine, food, clothes, toys, and necessities to help thousands of families seeking asylum, escaping places very different than Las Cruces. Residents are donating their time to translate, feed, medicate, and help the thousands of people who have nothing at all to offer in return. And although the acceptance of these asylum seekers has been a federal mandate that has stoked a much larger political and humanitarian conversation, we’re proud that our city has responded by extending the warmth, generosity, and hospitality that Las Cruces and its people are known for.
Here’s to you Las Cruces, your majestic purple mountain backdrops, lush and fertile valley, and endless vast skies, only pale in comparison to the hearts of your people.
Helping a Service Member
There have been multiple people that we have encountered here such as store owners store workers or couple we have rented from being in the small town of Mesilla or over to Truth or Consequences that have offered their names and phone numbers for us to give to our son that is stationed on White Sands Missile Range just in case he needs help or advice with anything while stationed in New Mexico ! We have traveled to many places and I always say this has been the only place that this has ever happened—truly brought tears to my eyes knowing there are still good people out there.
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