The city council of Santa Fe in New Mexico unanimously reaffirmed the city’s ‘Sanctuary City” status despite the risk of losing federal funds. The city council affirmed a resolution protecting illegal immigrants against deportation. The council approved 10 sanctuary policies, which include includes denying access to immigration officers to city properties and keeping the immigration status of any person confidential.
 
City Council Member Joseph Maestas told the Albuquerque Journal, “We’re thumbing our nose at this incoming administration.” Santa Fe’s Mayor David Cross said, “If that’s all we’re worried about, shame on us. That’s not what Santa Fe is about,” referring to the possibility that the federal government would withhold funding. Since 1999, Santa Fe has been a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.
 
President-elect Donald Trump has promised to withhold federal funding to those jurisdictions that have sanctuary policies in place. At one time, New Mexico had cooperated with the federal government in arresting illegal immigrants. Governor Toney Anaya (D) declared in 1996 that New Mexico a sanctuary state. Then, in 2011, the state’s status was reversed by Governor Susana Martinez (R), minutes after she was sworn into office.
 
“I said there will not be any sanctuary city. Our police officers will ask where someone is from, especially if they are being arrested and put in jail for crimes, because that needs to be considered by a judge. Are you a flight risk or a danger to the community and would you return to court for proceedings to determine whether you are culpable for some offense you are accused of?” said Martinez in July 2015.
 
While some city authorities express confidence that there are restrictions on how the federal government can control funding in order to enforce a policy. However, according to the 8 U.S.C. 1373 law, the Department of Justice (DOJ) can cut or recoup federal grants if a municipality is not 100 percent compliant with federal immigration law. In 2016, the DOJ certified 10 sanctuary jurisdictions and notified them that they would not be eligible to get law enforcement grants for this year not unless they reverse their policies. 
 
The 10 certified sanctuary jurisdictions are;  the states of California and Connecticut; Orleans Parish in Louisiana; New York City; Philadelphia; Cook County, Illinois; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Clark County, Nevada. The resolution by Santa Fe’s council may now place that city on the list. 


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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