February 23, 2017

NM cities push back against Trump immigration policies

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump at Arizona rally in March, 2016. Flickr/cc

Three of the state’s largest cities highlighted their opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies this week.

The moves come as President Donald Trump has given more power to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. The move appears to show wider enforcement against both those with criminal records and those without.

In Albuquerque, the city council* approved a memorial reaffirming the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status. The move came in front of a packed crowd that included many who were unable to fit in the chambers.

The vote was 6-1, with councilors Trudy Jones voting against and Dan Lewis and Don Harris not present.

The symbolic measure echoed a 2000 unanimous vote to call Albuquerque an “immigrant-friendly city.” The 2000 measure also barred the use of city resources to apprehend people based solely on their immigration status.

In Santa Fe, city councilors also voted to reaffirm the city as friendly to immigrants.

The policy also added new policies, including educating City of Santa Fe employees on the new two-tiered driver’s license system and stopping the city from participating in the federal “e-verify” system. The proposal also seeks education on civil rights for immigrant families and businesses.

Since 1999, the city of Santa Fe has barred the use of city resources for enforcement of federal immigration law.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s rhetoric and actions on immigration, and has vowed for the municipality to remain a “sanctuary city.” The term sanctuary city does not have a specific legal definition.

The city of Santa Fe is considering a lawsuit against the federal government over Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities.

In Las Cruces, city councilors opted to oppose a border wall. The 6-1 vote Tuesday was on a resolution that said such a wall would hurt New Mexico’s relationship with Mexico, which is a key trade partner for the state.

From the Las Cruces Sun-News, quoting the resolution’s sponsor, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Smith:

“I think there are numerous reasons, and there are people in this audience I know who have very strong personally held reasons why this wall should not occur, but for us in our jurisdiction as representatives of the city of Las Cruces, I believe the impact on our economy and the fact it would impact our cultural connection with our neighbors — those are the two prevailing and strong reasons why I first presented this resolution.”

The lone city councilor to vote against the measure was Ceil Levatino.

Democrats in the House are also advancing a bill to bar the use of state land for a border wall, though opponents say the federal government will just use eminent domain to seize the land.

*Pat Davis is an Albuquerque city councilor and a cosponsor of the memorial. Davis is the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, which helps find funding for NM Political Report. Neither Davis or anyone else at ProgressNow New Mexico has any editorial input on this or any other story, including story selection.

Correction: This story originally said there were no new policies in the Santa Fe resolution. There were a number of new policies in addition to reaffirming previous policies. This post has been updated to reflect that.