City Council reaffirms ABQ’s ‘immigrant-friendly’ status

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Albuquerque city councilors with their hands raised, from left, Trudy Jones, Don Harris and Brad Winter, vote against a resolution reaffirming the city’s status as an “immigrant-friendly city” during Monday’s meeting. The resolution, however, passed 6 to 3. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

There were tears.

There was some applause.

And there was a faint boo or two.

After passionate and compassionate arguments from about 50 speakers representing all sides of the immigration issue, Albuquerque city councilors on Monday voted 6-3 to reaffirm and strengthen an “immigrant-friendly” resolution which bans use of city resources to identify undocumented immigrants or apprehend people based on their immigration status.

The updated resolution reaffirms the city’s policy and aims to eliminate fear among immigrants when it comes to contact with law enforcement.

Republican Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones and Don Harris voted in opposition to the measure.

The decision to reaffirm Albuquerque’s status as an “immigrant-friendly city” was made despite the Trump administration’s threat since taking office to withhold law enforcement grants for cities that have made immigrant-friendly declarations.

The resolution states that Albuquerque is a “safe place for immigrants from all countries, as well as for war refugees, people of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.”

The resolution was cosponsored by city councilors Klarissa Peña and Pat Davis, both Democrats.

Peña explained the need to reaffirm the resolution. For her, she said, it’s a human rights issue.

“We’ve been working on this for a while,” she told fellow councilors. “Because of some of the circumstances that have been out in the community, we want to provide clarity on the original intent of the resolution.”

Fellow Democratic Councilors Isaac Benton, Cynthia Borrego, Diane Gibson and Ken Sanchez also voted in support of the measure.

The resolution cleared the council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee last month with a do-pass recommendation.

“In order for Trump to carry out his terrifying vision of mass deportation, his administration is trying to strong-arm local governments into enforcing federal deportation programs,” Fabiola Bawden told councilors. “We are better than that in New Mexico. This resolution will build on Albuquerque’s legacy of integrating immigrants into the economic, cultural and civil fiber of the city.”

Edward Glenn told councilors the issue is a matter of “rule of law.”

“This is not an issue of racism,” he said. “Every one of you took an oath when you took office to protect the laws and the Constitution. This is not a matter of being cool. This is a matter of doing what’s right.”

Albuquerque for years has had in place a resolution declaring the city as friendly toward immigrants.

The City Council in 2000 passed a immigrant-friendly resolution which established policy for the city to treat all persons with respect and dignity regardless of their immigration status, ensured that immigrants who live in the city limits have access to municipal services and programs and instructed the Albuquerque Police Department not to enforce federal immigration laws.

Last year, councilors approved a memorial which commits to continuing the policies and statements established under the 2000 resolution. That memorial did not require approval by Mayor Richard Berry as do ordinances or resolutions.

Under Berry’s administration, immigration agents used a small space within the Prisoner Transport Center to check the immigration status of arrestees, according to a previous Journal story. The updated resolution passed Monday bans immigration officers from any city property without a warrant.

Bernalillo County commissioners have also taken a stance on the issue, passing an immigrant-friendly resolution last year that banned use of county dollars and personnel to investigate or arrest individuals based on their immigration status.

 

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