Democratic state representative Patricia Roybal Caballero proposed this month to make New Mexico a sanctuary state, through a bill that would prohibit the use of state resources to enforce federal immigration laws.
His proposal – called HB 116 and filed in the New Mexico House of Representatives on January 14 – would prohibit the use of funds, equipment, personnel or state resources to detect or detain people whose only violation of the law is an immigration offense. The measure would also prohibit New Mexico agencies from receiving funds and other federal resources to detain undocumented immigrants.
“Now that we have a threat to the values of our state in the White House, we must do everything possible to keep our families together and strong,” said the state congresswoman.
The proposal still does not have coauspiciadores, although the democrats control both cameras of the state legislature. If approved, the measure could be rejected by Gov. Susana Martinez, who is a Republican and has opposed the idea that New Mexico is a sanctuary state.
“Although we have not reviewed the legislation, the governor’s position on this issue has always been clear,” said Michael Lonergan, spokeswoman for the governor.
In 2011, Martínez cancelled an executive order that effectively converted New Mexico into a sanctuary state, by ordering security agents not to ask questions about their immigration status to the people they detained.
By replacing that measure, Martinez submitted a new executive order, asking security agents in New Mexico to check the immigration status of the detainees, and to report any information to the federal immigration authorities.
However, the Republican protected community members by ordering the agents not to ask about the immigration status of victims of crimes, witnesses, or anyone else seeking help from the authorities or reporting a crime.
“It’s not about immigration – it’s about public safety,” Lonergan said.
Although there are no official figures, an estimated 85,000 undocumented immigrants live in New Mexico, according to a 2014 analysis by the Pew Research Center.
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