RIO RANCHO, N.M. — In recent weeks officials in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Bernalillo County and the town of Bernalillo have supported resolutions affirming their communities’ status as “immigrant friendly” but Corrales bucked the trend by rejecting a similar measure on Tuesday night.
Village Councilors voted 4-2 to defeat the resolution after more than three hours of at-times emotional comment and several testy exchanges between opponents and supporters.
Councilors George Wright, Patricia Clauser, David Dornburg and Jim Fahey voted against the resolution, while sponsors Ennio Garcia-Miera and Phil Gasteyer were for it.
Greg Polk, a village resident on the committee that helped craft the resolution, said it was modeled on those presented to governing bodies in Albuquerque and others in New Mexico and elsewhere in the country.
Garcia-Miera said the purpose was to ensure all village residents, regardless of immigration status, should feel safe in their community and trust that they could report a crime to local authorities without fear.
Comments from more than 40 Corrales residents revealed a deep divide. Those in support said it put into policy what has been customary in the village, that it does welcome all immigrants.
“In the national atmosphere, I feel vulnerable. This is an issue for Corrales,” said Eleanor Bravo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the Philippines.
Opponents said it was a veiled attempt to create a sanctuary community policy. They criticized the resolution as being divisive. They accused the sponsors of making a national politics statement.
“This is a stick in the eye of the elected president,” said Corrales resident Jim Tritten. “Keep Washington-level politics off the streets of our village.”
After the comments, Councilor Wright questioned Corrales Police Chief Victor Mangiacapra, who said village officers currently do not ask the immigration status of people they stop. He said interaction with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) occurs at the Sandoval County Detention Center.
Wright said Congress is responsible for making immigration laws. He said the resolution would “codify lawlessness and anarchy.”
Fahey said the resolution was not necessary. Dornburg emphasized that the U.S. is a nation of laws and questioned why there should be excuses for anyone who comes here illegally.
On the same night, Bernalillo County Commissioners approved a measure declaring the county an immigrant friendly community. Albuquerque and Santa Fe city councils made similar decisions on Feb. 22 and the Bernalillo town council did so on Feb. 27.
After the Corrales meeting Garcia-Miera and village resident Mary Ellen Capek, a supporter, said they plan to continue efforts to ensure the safety of all immigrants and refugees in their community.
“We have a meeting scheduled where we will devise a short-term and a long-term plan,” Garcia-Miera said.
Asked why Corrales took a different direction than other local communities, Gasteyer ventured that village demographics have changed in recent years and it has become more conservative. He suggested people in Corrales who supported the defeated resolution could become involved with national organizations that are seeking to protect immigrants.