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Santa Fe doubles down on sanctuary city role

City Councilor Joseph Maestas

City Councilor Joseph Maestas

SANTA FE – The city of Santa Fe’s Immigration Committee gave itself a round of applause after unanimously approving a proposed resolution that reaffirms the city’s status as a sanctuary city and incorporates policies that protect immigrants against deportation.

The genesis of the resolution was a group of about 50 immigrant families in Santa Fe concerned about their futures after the election of Donald Trump as president, who campaigned on creating tougher immigration laws, according to committee member Marcela Diaz of Somos un Pueblo Unido, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights.

“They wanted to know what can we do to make us safer?” she said. “What positive steps can we take to make sure the future of our families is protected?”

The resolution, co-sponsored by City Councilors Joseph Maestas and Renee Villarreal, includes 10 policies intended to strengthen Santa Fe’s position as a sanctuary city, including keeping the immigration status of any person confidential, refusing access by immigration agents to city property, and establishing a working group made up of city, county, public school and community college representatives to “consider methods of providing protection and support to immigrant workers, families and youth in our community.”

“This is doubling down,” Maestas said. “We’re thumbing our nose at this incoming administration.”

A dozen people, including former mayor David Coss, spoke in support of the resolution.

While Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding to cities that have sanctuary city policies, “If that’s all we’re worried about, shame on us,” Coss said. “That’s not what Santa Fe is about.”

He said if Santa Fe doesn’t stand up against the threats, 400 years of progress will be erased.

While the City Council passed an anti-discrimination resolution in 1999, Jim Harrington, a retired attorney who has done volunteer work for Somos un Pueblo Unido, said, “This resolution puts us in a more defensible (legal) position than current sanctuary policies.” He said the U.S. Supreme Court has restricted how the federal government can use funding cuts to enforce policy.

The resolution next goes before the Finance Committee on Jan. 17. If approved there, it will come before the City Council for adoption on Jan. 25.