November 14, 2016

Santa Fe won’t end ‘sanctuary city’ status, even under President Trump

Santa Fe mayor Javier Gonzales.

Less than a week after Donald Trump won the election for president of the United States, the mayor of New Mexico’s capital city is not backing down from so-called “sanctuary” status.

This comes despite threats to cut federal money to such cities made by the president-elect during the campaign.

“The threat is intended to divide us against each other,” Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales wrote in a statement on Twitter Monday afternoon. “It is one of the first, but it won’t be the last we see out of this administration, which based on its own words intends to persecute and attack not only immigrants but women, Muslims, people of color, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and more.”

Though there is no formal legal definition, the politically charged term “sanctuary city” typically refers to cities that limit cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on immigration policies.

Santa Fe, for example, bars the use of public resources to check for someone’s immigration status. That means city police are not supposed to check the immigration status of someone they arrest.

Gonzales defended this status as “a policy of human rights for all immigrants.”

“It has benefitted our people, made us a safer, more cooperative community, and strengthened our economy,” Gonzales said in his statement, “and we have no intention to reverse course or be bullied into abandoning our values.”

Trump’s own campaign platform says he will “end sanctuary cities.”

More specifically, he has vowed to end federal funding to these types of cities.

“Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars,” Trump said in September in a speech focusing on immigration in Phoenix. “And we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.”

It’s unclear exactly what local projects would be jeopardized in Santa Fe under Trump’s proposed policy, though Gonzales said “we know we receive federal funding for major road infrastructure projects, and for community development block grants that support some of our affordable housing programs, to name two.”

“At this point, the onus is on Mr. Trump to fill in the details of this dangerous proposal,” Gonzales said in an email to NM Political Report. “Until he does we can only speak in broad categories about the possible impacts to Santa Fe.”

Gonzales also vowed to fight in court should a Trump administration follow through with this promise.

“We don’t relish having to re-litigate issues which we hoped were long-settled, but we won’t hesitate to rise to the occasion when we must,” Gonzales said in his Twitter message.

Mayors of other “sanctuary” cities like Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco made similar pledges to keep their status on Monday.

Santa Fe isn’t the only such community in New Mexico facing potential federal sanctions.

Albuquerque was defined as a sanctuary city until Mayor Richard Berry stripped the city of its status in 2010. Aztec, New Mexico has also been defined as a sanctuary city.

Several counties in New Mexico that have been defined as “sanctuary counties” include Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Lea, Luna, Otero, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Taos counties.