Council Reiterates Immigrant-Friendly Stance
Overflowing crowd cheers city policy
Hundreds of people turned out for the Feb. 22 Albuquerque City Council meeting to reaffirm Albuquerque’s status as an immigrant-friendly city. The chambers, including an overflow room, were packed. The meeting went long but the mood was festive. Citizens of various ages and ethnicities wore bright yellow buttons declaring “I support our local immigrant communities.”
The city of Albuquerque is not alone in making a statement in support of our immigrant population. The Santa Fe City Council did the same and Las Cruces city leaders denounced the idea of a border wall. Up in Santa Fe a bill is making its way through the state Legislature to not allow the use of any state lands for a proposed border wall.
These actions were sparked by the Trump administration’s orders to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to intensify enforcement, detention and deportation.
Just about all the public comments were focused on the immigrant-friendly measure on the table. Former City Councilor Rey Garduño took the podium first, to remind citizens that we are the privileged ones and not necessarily the ones impacted by the Trump administration’s hardline immigration plan. “But we must stand with them,” he said. Many comments said in numerous ways that the Trump administration has caused a climate of fear and hate across the country, and that Albuquerque is not that kind of a community.
The immigrant-friendly measure, in the form of a non-binding memorial which bears no weight of law, passed on a 6–1 vote. When this happened the crowd burst into applause. The memorial says that the city will not use city resources to help round up illegal immigrants unless otherwise required by federal law. Councilors said the city will comply with any federal mandates handed down. Many attending the meeting wanted the Council to prohibit cooperation by local law enforcement. This memorial echoes a 2000 memorial that declared Albuquerque an immigrant-friendly city and barred using city resources to identify undocumented workers or immigration statuses. When Mayor Richard Berry took office in 2009, his new policy allowed federal ICE agents to check the status of those arrested prior to being transported to jail.
Councilors Klarissa Peña, Ken Sanchez, Diane Gibson, Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Brad Winter joined together in the affirmative. Councilor Trudy Jones voted against it, saying that doing so might cause the Feds to think that Albuquerque is a “sanctuary city” that will contravene federal law. Councilors Don Harris and Dan Lewis were absent for this vote.
Nearly a dozen people were appointed to various boards, commissions and advisory councils. Congratulations and thanks to these citizens for stepping up and taking part in shaping our city government: Alfonso Otero was appointed to the Area Agency On Aging Advisory Council; Sophie LaBorwit, Analise Mirabal, Brian Kilman, Hanna Alley were appointed to the Youth Advisory Council; Sandy Barnhart y Chavez became part of the Cable Franchise & Hearing Board and Jonathan Peña has been assigned to the Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Board.
About $125 million in capital projects were set up for subsequent funding. Some of those projects include $30 million for a number of street improvements, $13 million for drainage projects, $12 million for parks and recreation projects, $14 million for public safety needs, $1 million for animal welfare shelter rehab and equipment, $1.5 million for Phase II of the Pat Hurley Community Center, $2 million for a new library on Central in the International District, $3 million for the completion of the North Domingo Baca gymnasium, $1 million for improvements to Los Altos Park, $400,000 for Uptown street and sidewalk improvements and $1 million for a Route 66 Visitors Center, among many other projects.
Barely enough councilors agreed with Councilor Pat Davis who asked the Police Department to designate some funding for two additional bike-riding police officers in the area of the University of New Mexico bordered by Yale and Carlisle and Lomas and Coal. Councilor Trudy Jones said that UNM has its own police force and that there is a need for more police protection across the city, not just this area. Police Chief Gorden Eden said Davis’ idea was not relevant, as area commands have the authority to assign officers to bike patrols already. The vote pedaled by authorization on a tight 4–3 vote.
Councilors approved amending the city’s noise control ordinance to give it more teeth. Some of the changes include setting the residential noise levels to 50 decibels at night and 55 during the day. Commercial noise levels are currently capped at 60 night/65 day and industrial sounds are limited to between 70 and 80.
A handful of third grade students from Georgia O’Keefe Elementary School read portions of their essays on the topic of “The Leader in Me” program. Some of the wise words included, “You need to work together; you need to synergize with others because it makes you a better person,” “being proactive is the best habit because then you are not reactive,” “being proactive is a habit successful people use to be successful.” We should listen to these youngsters as they work to bring their progressive views to our town’s adult citizens.