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Santa Fe councilors debate defending city’s “values,” criticizing Trump

SANTA FE – Anticipating the inauguration of Donald Trump as president next week, the Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday will consider a resolution reaffirming the city’s commitment to its values and those established in the state and U.S. constitutions.

This is different from another pending resolution reaffirming Santa Fe’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city” — cities with policies protecting undocumented immigrants from immigration enforcement — that was approved by the advisory Immigration Committee last week and which is scheduled for City Council consideration later this month.

This one mentions Trump by name, saying he has made “threats” to sanctuary cities and “espouses beliefs that are contrary to and undermine our community values.”

Those values include dignity, diversity, civil and human rights, and inclusivity, according to the resolution. It says the city expresses a “firm intent to repudiate any actions and policies that threaten our community and values and violate the principles” of the U.S. and state constitutions.

If approved, the values resolution would hold no binding effect. It would, however, be distributed to members of the New Mexico delegation In Washington, D.C., other congressional leaders, members of the state Legislature and the governor.

At least one city councilor thinks the proposed resolution is an over-reaction.”I don’t think we need a resolution to restate our values,” City Councilor Mike Harris said in a phone interview. “I think it’s well intended, but I also think it’s a bit of partisanship that doesn’t serve us well.”

Councilor Mike Harris

Councilor Mike Harris

The resolution takes aim at some of the pillars of Trump’s presidential campaign platform, such as building a wall on the southern border, and alludes to traits Trump critics attribute to him, such as promulgating hate speech and objectifying women. Trump has said he will withhold federal funding from cities that maintain sanctuary city policies.

Both resolutions are co-sponsored by City Councilors Joseph Maestas and Renee Villarreal. Maestas said during the recent Immigration Committee meeting that the City Council was “thumbing our nose” at the Trump administration.

Villarreal said she wouldn’t put it that way. “That’s not the goal of this; that part doesn’t matter to me,” she said of the mention of Trump in the resolution, something she said could be removed during discussion. “To me, I think it reiterates the progressive values the city has supported for a long time … It’s not just focused on immigrants but all people who are a part of our community.”

Councllor Renee Villarreal

Councllor Renee Villarreal

The resolution states that Santa Fe “has been a national leader in progressive values” that is determined to “secure the continuity of cultural values, personal freedoms, and well being.” It also condemns hate speech and crimes, gender-based bias, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and “discrimination and disparate treatment of individuals and groups on the basis of religion.” The resolution states the city supports the “core American ideal of welcoming immigrants.”

Noting Santa Fe was for 27 years of its history a part of Mexico, the resolution states that the city rejects the idea of adding to the physical barriers between the two countries and rejects the idea that “our neighbors south of the border are threats to our safety (and) livelihood.”

The resolution states the city’s citizens have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, believes climate change exists and supports efforts to “divert non-violent offenders from the criminal justice system and rehabilitate and reform them to be productive members of our community.”

Councilor Harris says his take is that Trump sometimes speaks, or tweets, to provoke a reaction. “I have felt for a long time that this is his style, but also a tactic,” he said.

Harris said he rather focus on setting a positive agenda. “I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said of the proposed resolution. “I think it’s distracting from the work we do.”