Santa Fe's city government voted Wednesday evening to add its name to two sanctuary city lawsuits challenging the Trump administration's efforts to link federal funding to immigration enforcement.
The city of Chicago has sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his attempt to place conditions on grants for law enforcement equipment, and Sessions' Justice Department has sued California over three state laws that demand access to centers holding people for civil immigration proceedings, prohibit private employers from agreeing to warrantless searches by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and prevent sharing immigration status with federal authorities.
While the Department of Justice won its bid to prohibit enforcement of the California law regarding private employers, a federal court upheld the other two laws. Santa Fe's interest is primarily in the ability of a city to regulate what immigration information it chooses to share with the federal government.
Santa Fe passed a "Welcoming Community" ordinance in 2017 that reaffirmed many similar longstanding policies with respect to immigrants. It notably did not use the term "sanctuary city." The governing body's vote Wednesday, which was unanimous for those councilors who were present, makes clear how the city sees its status.
"Given the resolutions that we have done over the years and given the policy of a sanctuary city, absolutely it's something we should stand up and be a part of," District 2 City Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth told SFR after the vote. "Given what we said our values are, we should be heard."
The city will add its name to briefs filed in support of immigrant-friendly policies in both cases, and City Attorney Erin McSherry said if Santa Fe finds it has novel information to pass along in either case, her office is now free to add it to court filings.
The city is a member of the US Conference of Mayors, which has already filed a brief in the Chicago case. Santa Fe was one of the local jurisdictions asked by the Justice Department to certify that it would uphold federal immigration rules as a condition of receiving a law enforcement grant. The city submitted a "red-line" version of the certification in which it crossed out that language. The Department of Justice has been prevented by a federal court from requiring the certifications.