Despite Trump Actions, Santa Fe Mayor Vows To Remain A Sanctuary City
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Among the actions taken today by Donald Trump is an executive order that's aimed at sanctuary cities, cities where by policy or local law the police typically do not help federal agencies enforce the immigration laws. Trump is directing the secretary of Homeland Security and the attorney general to withhold grant money from those cities, and he's calling for restoration of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement to target criminal aliens.
This comes as no surprise, and many mayors have publicly pledged their cities will remain safe for immigrants who have no documentation. Among those, Mayor Javier Gonzales of Santa Fe, N.M, who joins us now. Welcome to the program.
JAVIER GONZALES: Thank you, Robert. Good to be with you.
SIEGEL: This month, your city council backed off a resolution that pointedly criticized Donald Trump. Is your city losing some of its conviction to be a sanctuary city?
GONZALES: Well, no. The word sanctuary city has been something that's just been adopted by Trump to push out some rhetoric. What Santa Fe has been is a city that has practiced as part of its values nondiscrimination.
SIEGEL: Not just where they come from, but whether they have a visa to be in Santa Fe, you don't discriminate on that basis.
GONZALES: We don't discriminate. We don't ask for status. We don't have a checkpoint coming into the city looking for papers because we do believe that every person deserves respect and dignity when they're living in our community peacefully, when they're contributing. And the issue of law enforcement resources needs to go towards community policing. And so the last thing that we are going to do is serve as an extension of the federal Immigration Services and begin to issue - through administrative warrants - detention orders.
SIEGEL: If, in fact, for pursuing those policies all federal funds from Justice and Homeland Security were cut off for Santa Fe, what impact would that have on your city?
GONZALES: I don't believe that there will be federal funds that will be cut off because I believe Santa Fe is fully compliant, regardless of his executive order - federal laws. And it's important to, one, recognize that we're on solid legal grounds, but, two, you know, there are people that highly depend on federal grants whether it's for warm meals, first time homeownership. There is nothing that this executive order can do that would compel us to have to change not only the values of our city, but certainly change the way service is being delivered through funds that are coming from the federal government.
SIEGEL: But a few years ago, it was reported that in Santa Fe the county jail barred immigration agents from interviewing inmates and didn't notify federal agents when it released people. Is that still the case? Will those policies continue, and are they compliant with federal law?
GONZALES: It is still the case. And, you know, that would be something that in terms of the county pursuing and holding onto those policies, I think it's important that they continue to do so. I hope they don't change them. And this act by President Trump unfortunately is an act of bullying, of trying to intimidate through the use of federal funds a change in values that have been all about nondiscrimination.
SIEGEL: But, Mayor Gonzalez, what do you say to a supporter of this move who says there was just an election? Cutting of sanctuary cities was a very frequently repeated campaign promise of Donald Trump's. There were polls that showed it was even popular with voters. He won, people who supported your side lost, give it up.
GONZALES: What I would say is first, the prioritization of this president needs to be about reforming a broken immigration system, that the reason so many cities across the country have had to step into this role of providing safe inclusive communities is because the federal immigration system has been broken.
He should propose and initiate efforts to work with the Congress in a bipartisan way that reforms an immigration system that will keep our border safe, develop more efficient processes to get work permits and visas, and then begin to work with local governments to go after all individuals, whether they're here lawfully or not, who want to commit crimes against our community. But he's chosen to take the political path, and I don't think that that's going to move us to being any safer than what we want to be.
SIEGEL: Mayor Javier Gonzalez of Santa Fe, N.M. Thank you very much for talking with us.
GONZALES: Thank you for having me, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.