The Santa Fe City Council narrowly failed to pass a controversial resolution that denounced many of the policies of the incoming presidential administration and would have defiantly resolved that the City would “continue to be a sanctuary city.” The resolution also expressly rejected the idea of building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico Border, and mentioned President-Elect Donald Trump by name. The vote was 4-4 with one abstention.
Breitbart Texas reported on January 4 that the capital city of the State of Enchantment was doubling down on its sanctuary status even at the risk of losing federal funds. The article discussed the City’s back-and-forth history of being a sanctuary city going back to 1986. The resolution being discussed at that time included policies that would keep the immigration status of any person confidential and would refuse access to city property by immigration officials.
“This is doubling down,” City Council Member Joseph Maestas, the Albuquerque Journal reported on January 3, “We’re thumbing our nose at this incoming administration.”
In reference to the possible loss of federal funding, former Santa Fe Mayor David Cross told the council, “If that’s all we’re worried about, shame on us. That’s not what Santa Fe is about.” Cross was reported to say that if the City did not stand up to the potential federal government action, 400 years of progress would be erased.
The resolution on the City’s agenda on Wednesday night began with:
WHEREAS, on November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, President-Elect Trump has made threats to Sanctuary Cities such as the City of Santa Fe; and espouses beliefs that are contrary to and undermine our community values …
If passed, the resolution would have provided that “The city of Santa Fe will continue to be a sanctuary city that protects and values immigrants as part of the unique fabric of our community.”
The resolution stated that the City of Santa Fe would expressly:
reject the idea of adding to the physical barriers at the boundary between the US and Mexico, and also reject the premise that our neighbors south of the border are threats to the safety livelihood; and consider that premise contrary to our core American ideal of welcoming immigrants and also contrary to our history of old and new Mexicans working side by side for the benefit of both.
The resolution was on the agenda to be submitted to a vote of the city council in the New Mexico town on Wednesday evening. Councilors Joseph M. Maestas and Renee D. Villarreal sponsored the resolution.
If passed, the resolution would have also “condemn[ed] any discrimination and disparate treatment of individuals and groups on the basis of religion,” affirmed its support for the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and reaffirmed its commitment to rehabilitating and reforming non-violent offenders. It also had a provision which stated “we believe in women’s rights and condemn the demeaning and objectification of women.” It also addressed climate change stating that, “we believe climate change exists and is caused by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels; and we strive to achieve comprehensive, environmental sustainability with an overall goal of reaching carbon neutrality by the year 2040.”
The resolution itself refers to the City of Santa Fe as having “been a national leader in progressive values, striving to ensure a fair and just community.”
Breitbart Texas spoke with Councilor Joseph Maestas on Thursday morning after the vote. He said the resolution was narrowly defeated and that some thought the resolution was redundant. Yet, given the “potential threats, he thought it important to relay the City’s long-held support of sanctuary city policies and to relay fears and concerns in the community by reaffirming the City’s values.
Maestas said the measure was “highly symbolic whose timing was right.”
During the month before the vote after the resolution was filed, Councilor Maestas tweeted:
Proud to intro a resolution affirming Santa Fe's status as a "sanctuary" for immigrants and calling for stronger policies to reinforce it.
— Joseph Maestas (@JosephMaestas2) December 15, 2016
Also proud to intro a resolution reaffirming Santa Fe's commitment to its progressive values.
— Joseph Maestas (@JosephMaestas2) December 15, 2016
Item #13 on the council agenda styled “A Resolution Reaffirming the City of Santa Fe’s Commitment to Its Values; and to the Values Set Forth in the Constitutions of the United States and New Mexico” would have been nonbinding. Although nonbinding, it would have required that the resolution be forwarded to: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan; U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; the members of U.S. Congress from the state; New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez; and the state legislators that represent the City of Santa Fe.
Before the vote, City Councilor Chris Rivera was reported to note that the resolution expressly included the President-elect’s name.
“I don’t think it needs to be personal like that,” Councilor Rivera said. “If the City wants to reaffirm what it did back in ’99 [when it adopted a sanctuary city policy], that’s fine. But I’m not sure that it has to be so personal.”
During the debate on the resolution, Maestas said the mayor asked how to translate these progressive policies into action. Maestas told Breitbart Texas that legislation was coming that would affirm and reaffirm its sanctuary and immigration policies. It will also strengthen existing policies. Maestas said that a measure has unanimously passed through the City’s immigration advisory committee and is now going to be submitted to the finance committee on January 17th. If approved, it will be submitted before the City Council on January 25th.
Jim Harrington, a retired attorney who has volunteered with Somos un Pueblo Unido was reported on January 3 to have said that the passage of that resolution would “pu[t] us in a more defensible position than current sanctuary policies.” He was reported to reason that the U.S. Supreme Court has restricted how the federal government can use funding cuts to enforce policy.
As reported by Breitbart Texas:
Under existing law, the Department of Justice (DOJ) can move quickly to not only cut off future law enforcement grants to the city–it can recoup past grants for any period of time the municipality was not 100 percent compliant with federal immigration law, according to U.S. Representative John Culberson (R-TX).
Culberson spent most of 2016 working with DOJ officials to enforce 8 U.S.C. § 1373, a law that passed in 1996 to require local and state jurisdictions to cooperate with immigration officials or risk losing federal funding, Breitbart Texas previously reported. “The law requires cooperation with immigration officials 100 percent of the time,” Culberson said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas in November.