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Proposal backing Santa Fe’s ‘welcoming’ status is passed

SANTA FE – A bevy of attorneys, faith leaders, social workers, human rights advocates and city residents – including those who immigrated to the city – expressed support for a proposed resolution that reaffirms Santa Fe’s status as a “welcoming community for immigrants and refugees” during a public hearing Monday.

But while all of the nearly 50 people who spoke at the city Finance Committee hearing supported the resolution, and the proposal passed by a 5-0 vote, not everyone was singing “Kumbaya.”

“The process has been less than perfect,” said Michael Harris, a city councilor who sits on the committee.

Harris, who last week introduced an “alternative resolution” to the one heard on Monday, said that a recent meeting he and fellow District 4 Councilor Ron Trujillo held to discuss issues affecting their constituents had been “hijacked” by Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a Santa Fe-based immigrant rights group.

“People were asking if it was the Somos meeting,” he said.

Councilor Mike Harris

Councilor Mike Harris

Councilor Signe Lindell also suggested supporters of the resolution had been too assertive. She said she had received some phone calls and emails that weren’t too nice, and she felt that she was being “bullied.”

“To be shoved and bullied by people,” she said, “that’s not how it works for me.”

While some members of the public spoke passionately in support of the resolution, everyone was respectful.

The proposal, sponsored by City Councilors Joseph Maestas and Renee Villarreal, is a substitute resolution for one they previously introduced that called for the city to reaffirm its status as a so-called “sanctuary city.”

Maestas told the Journal last week that the new version removed reference to sanctuary jurisdictions, partly because there is no legal definition for the term “sanctuary city.” He said that one of the purposes behind the resolution was to make sure the city’s policies “stood on solid legal footing.”

The substitute resolution lists proposals for 13 new policies. Among them are that no city employee, including police officers, shall ask anyone about their immigration status; city officials shall deny federal immigration agents access to city property; and that the city will work to protect the human and civil rights of all its residents.

Last week, City Attorney Kelley Brennan received backing from the City Council to consult with outside attorneys to “explore options and clarify legal considerations” with regard to an executive order by President Donald Trump to cut off funding to cities with policies against allocating city resources to enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Harris said his resolution served to reaffirm a nondiscrimination resolution the City Council passed in 1999.

Both proposals are scheduled to be heard by the Public Safety Committee on Feb. 21. The Maestas-Villarreal resolution is set for City Council consideration the next day, Feb. 22, while Harris’ isn’t due to come before the council until March 8.