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Santa Fe gears for ‘sanctuary’ fight

SANTA FE – Santa Fe is gearing up for a fight, if it comes to that.

At a rally outside City Hall staged by Somos un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights, more than a dozen speakers spoke out Wednesday evening against what they perceive as threats under the forthcoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump has said he intends to build a wall along the Mexican border to control immigration and the influx of drugs into the country, and he has supported halting federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities – cities like Santa Fe that have policies protecting undocumented immigrants by not cooperating with the federal government on immigration enforcement.

The purpose of the rally was to reaffirm Santa Fe’s status as a sanctuary city – which some at the rally said it has been for 400 years – and take it a step further with a new City Council resolution intended to make the city’s polices in support of its immigrant community even stronger in the face of possible conflict with the Trump administration.

“Santa Fe, are you ready for a fight?” asked Mayor Javier Gonzales, who has become somewhat of the face in support of sanctuary cities after recent appearances on CNN, Fox News, National Public Radio and, this week, on HBO’s Vice News. “Are you ready to stand together?”

The crowd of close to 150 people cheered as an affirmative answer to both questions.

City Councilor Joseph Maestas introduced a resolution at a City Council meeting later that calls on city employees, including police officers, to keep the immigration status of any person confidential, prevent the enforcement of federal immigration laws on city property and provide community outreach and education concerning civil rights of immigrant and non-immigrant residents. It also says that the city “shall vigorously resist, by all available means including legal action, any threat by the federal government to terminate or reduce any type of federal funding for the purpose of coercing the city into assisting in the enforcement of the federal immigration laws.”

Maestas said the purpose of the new policies was “to send a message across the country that we’re not going to cower in fear. We’re going to stand up.”

Other speakers included Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia, and Linda Siegle, a member of Santa Fe Community College’s elected board. The SFPS school board and the SFCC governing body have passed resolutions declaring the public schools and the community college “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants.

The rally began and ended with prayer. During her opening blessing, Concha Garcia, from Oaxaca, Mexico, said that when people first came to Santa Fe there were no borders. “We’re gathered here so we can create a safe, safe place for all people,” she said.

During a group lighting of candles that closed the event, Rev. Tony Aja of Santa Fe’s Westminster Presbyterian Church said the candles were “a symbol that the light of justice will dispel the darkness of fear and discrimination.”