New Mexico county to keep ‘immigrant friendly’ policy
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico commissioners have decided to keep a policy declaring Bernalillo County an immigrant-friendly community despite threats from U.S. Justice Department to defund so-called sanctuary cities.
Bernalillo is New Mexico’s most populous county and includes the city of Albuquerque. The county’s Board of Commissioners passed the immigrant-friendly resolution in March as a symbolic gesture, and to prevent county dollars and personnel from being used to investigate anyone’s immigration status or arrest individuals based on their immigration status, unless required to do so by law.
Commissioner Wayne Johnson proposed repealing the resolution and granting the Department of Justice access to county-operated detention facilities. At the meeting, Johnson affirmed that the measure was in response to the federal government’s requirement to access the county’s detention center for participation in its Partnership Program, which provides cities like Albuquerque millions of dollars in federal assistance, and had nothing to do with immigrants.
“There’s nothing in this resolution that directs or implies that the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department should in any way be enforcing federal immigration law,” he said. “Everything in this resolution puts the burden on the Department of Homeland Security and on Immigration and Customs.”
Only Johnson voted in favor of the proposal Tuesday night.
Albuquerque City Councilor Rey Garduno saw Johnson’s move as a way to gain attention as the commissioner running to be Albuquerque mayor.
“Shame on you. Shame on you for grabbing headlines to see if you can get elected,” he said, as the crowd erupted in applause. “Shame on those who take refuge on scoundrelness. You will pay your dues. I promise you.”