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Santa Fe reaffirms immigrant protections

Former Santa Fe city councilor Batti Bushee and fomer mayor David Coss, applaud speakers by waving their hands during a Santa Fe City council meeting Wednesday for a resolution to strengthen the city as a sanctuary city. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Former Santa Fe city councilor Batti Bushee and former mayor David Coss, applaud speakers by waving their hands during a Santa Fe City council meeting Wednesday for a resolution to strengthen the city as a sanctuary city. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – As President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities and ramped up enforcement activities against undocumented immigrants, the Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution reaffirming the city’s status as a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees.

The unanimous vote, with one of the resolution’s co-sponsors, Peter Ives, absent, came after a public hearing at which nearly 60 people urged the council to take a stance against Trump policies.

Some of them spoke of the fear over Trump’s plans that also include construction of a wall on the southern border, expansion and expedited removal of undocumented immigrants, and the hiring of thousands of additional agents to enforce immigration law.

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“I ask you to support this resolution so our children won’t have to worry one day to the next that their parents will be taken away,” Veronica Velasquez said in Spanish through an interpreter.

Several others spoke of the pride they felt living in a city that stood up for “what is right.”

“What is legal is not always what is ethical,” said Sasha Anderson, who spoke while holding a toddler.

The resolution, introduced by City Councilors Joseph Maestas and Renee Villarreal, restates policies under which city police have operated since they were adopted by the City Council in 1999 and under a 1985 resolution that offered refuge to Salvadoran and Guatemalan nationals. Santa Fe officers are under orders to not ask the people they arrest or otherwise encounter about their immigration status.

The new resolution includes new provisions meant to protect the human and civil rights of all residents and sensitive information about any person. It directs city employees to refuse federal immigration authorities access to non-public areas of city property and to not honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests for “detainers” to extend incarceration for people who have been arrested so ICE can check them out.

The resolution passed with an amendment brought by Councilor Michael Harris that also reaffirmed Santa Fe’s commitment to “established rule of law.”

An initial version of the resolution used the word “sanctuary” for Santa Fe’s stance but the word was dropped. The revision was made because there is no legal definition of the sanctuary term, city officials said, and to assure the city’s policies are “legally defensible.”

Earlier this month the City Council also endorsed a plan by the city attorney’s office to consult with outside counsel about exploring legal options including whether to seek a judge’s ruling on the legality of the city’s policies. San Francisco is among sanctuary jurisdictions that have already sued over Trump’s directives.

Prior to casting his vote, Mayor Javier Gonzales thanked the many people who help draft the resolution and those who came out to speak in support of it.

“Tonight Santa Fe, you showed your heart and it pounds very hard. It beats for justice and acceptance,” he said.

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