Wikipedia defines a sanctuary city as one that permits residence by illegal immigrants to help them avoid deportation. Municipal policies include prohibiting law enforcement and city employees from questioning people about their immigration status. Mayors of sanctuary cities would certainly proclaim that “we are a nation of immigrants and refugees. It is our moral obligation to treat all people as we would be treated, with justice and compassion.”
Los Alamos County Councilor Pete Sheehey has assured us that his proposed resolution is “not about sanctuary cities or anything like that.” He says that this resolution does not change our County’s immigration laws, but “reminds those in county government and law enforcement to treat all county residents equally and fairly.” Let me remind him that you don’t have to call yourself a “sanctuary city” to be one. In fact, Santa Fe officials are backing away from the label, while declaring that “we don’t discriminate against people based on immigration status.” Further, Santa Fe’s new resolution calls for “reaffirming the long-standing status of the city of Santa Fe as a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees and making policy changes to safeguard residents’ sensitive personal information and preserve residents’ human and civil rights.”
For a resolution that supposedly does not change current policy, the timing just could not be more terrible. Just days ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that sanctuary cities risked punitive measures in addition to cuts in federal funding. If the intent of this resolution is not for Los Alamos to become a sanctuary city, then it should include specific language to clarify that fact: our County Government and law enforcement are in full compliance with federal immigration laws. Let me remind the Council that President Trump’s Department of Justice will be asking you to clarify, indeed certify, that fact in order to receive law enforcement grants.
Los Alamos has a wonderful immigrant community, the brightest and best from all over the world. It is a community that I have served for 20 years; one that I am very proud to be a part of. The best thing that the County Council can do for us, is to preserve, not jeopardize the funding essential for the viability and safety of this town. The overwhelming majority of us are documented and are here legally. Reminders to treat us with respect, justice and compassion, can be done with Council op-eds and town halls, not with resolutions that risk our security and resources.
Therefore, I strongly urge the County Council to include an official, “no sanctuary city” stance in its resolution on immigrants and refugees.