SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A long-running Santa Fe policy for dealing with immigrants could put millions in federal funding at risk under president-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
Santa Fe currently has status as a sanctuary city. That means for low level offenders, the city’s police officers don’t check immigration status and don’t hand those suspects over to federal immigration officials for deportation. It’s a policy that’s been on the books since 1999.
“We’re not going to use local law enforcement resources to look into status,” said Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales in a phone interview. “We’re going to focus on the real criminals that are trying to create harm in our community.”
Other cities such as Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City have a similar sanctuary city status.
But in late October, during a major speech in Gettysburg laying out his plans should he be elected president, Donald Trump made a promise that on his first day in office he’d take several steps to “restore security and constitutional rule of law.”
“We will cancel all federal funding of sanctuary cities,” said Trump.
That would hit Santa Fe hard.
According to a city spokesperson, Santa Fe is receiving $6.1 million in federal grant funding this current fiscal year.
This year alone, the city’s received federal grants to help buy new equipment, rehab runways and promote flights at its airport. It’s also received money to buy new vehicles for its Santa Fe Trails bus system.
A number of community organizations, including Kitchen Angels, Habitat for Humanity, Girls Inc., the Santa Fe Recovery Center and YouthWorks, have recently been the beneficiaries of federal Community Development Block Grants.
When asked if Santa Fe would retain its sanctuary city status under the threat of losing federal funding, Mayor Gonzales reiterated his support for the policy but left the question somewhat open.
“We’re a long ways before knowing whether the city will have to absorb that kind of a hit or even consider having to modify this policy,” Gonzales said. “It’s too early to say now and what I’ll say is we’ll fight to the very end to hold onto our status as always being welcoming.”
Gonzales is hoping that the president-elect will change his mind on this issue or soften his stance, as he’s done on other issues.
Albuquerque used to have sanctuary city status, but ended that policy in 2010 soon after Mayor Richard Berry took office.