Four Albuquerque City Councilors introduced a memorial re-affirming the city’s status as an “Immigrant-Friendly City” during a City Council meeting last week.
The introduction comes after the Republican president has issued a series of executive orders calling for the construction of a wall along the southern border with México, threatening cuts in federal funding for so called “sanctuary cities”, and most recently temporarily stopping incoming travel from 7 different countries with a majority Muslim population.
The Vincent E. Griego Chamber had a full house, mostly packed by pro-immigrant activists. One of the attendants who spoke in support of the memorial during last week’s meeting was Jessica Rodríguez– an immigrant, originally from Ciudad Juarez, México, and mother to two young children.
For Rodríguez, the introduction of the memorial represented “having some emotional stability knowing that the city is working to protect her and her children.” She also made it clear that “this [memorial] is not enough, but it is a good first step to fight back against Trump’s administration.”
Back in December of 2000, the City Council passed a resolution (R-00-151) stating that “no municipal resources shall be used to identify individuals’ immigration status or apprehend persons on the sole basis of immigration status”, presumably granting Albuquerque a “sanctuary” status.
Councilor Klarissa J. Peña (D-District 3), one of the co-sponsors of the proposal, said the memorial calls for the review of city policies to ensure that they are conducive of an “immigrant-friendly” city.
She also stated that this re-affirmation of the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status was to “alleviate some of the concerns from community members,” following Trump’s executive orders on immigration signed on Jan. 25.
On that same day, the UNM Dream Team and the New México Dream Team– an immigrants’ rights organization with 7 chapters across the state-, launched an online petition demanding city officials to propose and implement “safe policies” that would ensure “the safety, and wellbeing of all immigrant, refugee, and Muslim communities in Albuquerque,” according to their website.
“Right now, our families are facing a time of urgency,” said Felipe Rodríguez, an undocumented UNM student and field coordinator for the UNM Dream team. “Unless the City is able to pass clear policies that block the collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies, our immigrant families in Albuquerque are not safe,” he said.
Despite efforts by Mayor Richard Berry (R – Albuquerque), who made immigration a top issue during his mayoral race in 2009, Albuquerque has maintained its implied “sanctuary” status. Since taking office, Mayor Berry has called for tougher penalties on immigrants.
At the February 8th meeting, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos– an immigrants’ rights organization that fought back against Mayor Berry’s “deportation programs” in 2009–, expressed through a prepared statement that they were “proud that the Albuquerque City Council will not be complicit in the targeting, persecution, discrimination and deportation of families.”
Nearing the end of City Council meeting, only one person spoke in opposition to the introduced memorial stating the city “is misusing its resources by allowing access to all services to immigrants regardless of their status.”
Currently R-00-151 reads, “immigrants who live within the city limits of Albuquerque and their families shall have access to all City services and programs.”
The February 6th memorial came as House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee, at the State Legislature, is expected to hear Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero’s proposal that could make New México a “sanctuary state”.
The proposed HB 116, halts local and state law enforcement agencies from the use of “state funds, equipment, personnel or resources nor accept or utilize federal funds, equipment, personnel or resources for the purpose of detecting or apprehending” immigrants in the state.
M-17-14 was co-sponsored by Councilors Isaac Benton, Klarissa J. Peña, Pat Davis, and Diane Gibson. Final vote on the memorial is expected to happen on Feb. 22.
Isaac J. De Luna Navarro is the Communications Director for Listo NM.
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