Today is Election Day for the city’s mayoral race that includes incumbent Martin “Marty” Chavez, Richard Romero and Richard "RJ" Berry. The Albuquerque Journal polls show that Berry a Republican leads with 31%, while Democrat Chavez is at 26% and Democrat Romero is at 24%. Martin Chavez has name recognition and had been consider a “shoe in” coming in to the campaign but this election year things have taken a new surprising twist. Both Romero and Berry have come after Chavez swinging everything they can muster and the effecting result is visible in the poll.
One of the most sticky points and controversial issues that have been raised is if Albuquerque is a “sanctuary City.” A sanctuary city is a term given to a city in the United States that follows certain practices that protect illegal immigrants. These practices can be by law (de jure) or they can be by habit (de facto). The term generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police to inquire about one's immigration status. The designation has no legal meaning.
Mayor Chavez has been criticized for enforcing a city policy that supposedly prohibits city police from questioning suspected foreigners of their legal status. For some time now the local media has been having a field day reporting the issue of immigration and the city police that some say makes Albuquerque a sanctuary city. According to a report on KOB-TV, Albuquerque Police Department officers who find illegal immigrants will no longer contact federal immigration agents or the Border Patrol.
KRQE News 13 says that under the new policy police will be prohibitted from even asking about the immigration status of people they arrest.
"Officers shall not inquire about or seek proof of a person's immigration status ... officers shall not call federal immigration officers to the scene ... of an investigation except in the case of suspected human trafficking," the policy states in part, according to KRQE.
Six years ago the Albuquerque City Council passed a resolution saying no city resources would be used to go after illegal immigrants, but APD was sued two years ago by three students at Del Norte High School who were detained by an officer for being illegal immigrants, KOB-TV reported.
According to News 13, some APD officers are angry and frustrated that the policy is allowing known criminals to stay on the streets and continue to commit crime when federal authorities don't know an illegal immigrant is in custody, then posts bond and gets out of jail.
And immigration officials tell KRQE they will continue to investigate these cases, but the new APD policy will make things tougher.
"Local police serve as our eyes and ears if you will," Immigration and Customs spokeswoman Leticia Zamaripps told News 13. "The local authorities are the ones patrolling the streets, the ones who are out there more than likely coming in contact with a lot of these criminal aliens."
person's immigration status and will not enforce federal immigration laws. But that doesn't mean police can't arrest an illegal immigrant or inquire about a person's immigration status in a criminal investigation. Schultz said that the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on illegals doesn't apply to criminal investigations.
"Any officer investigating criminal activity is allowed to inquire about immigration status and take any action necessary," said Schultz, who said there is a lot of confusion about APD policy regarding illegal immigrants.
Schultz said false information is circulating that criminals will not be asked about their immigration status, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
"On the other hand, we want the immigrant community to know that should they be a victim or witness to a crime, their immigration status will not be held against them," Schultz said. "We want their cooperation so we can hold all criminals accountable."
things will change.
"I will get rid of the so-called sanctuary city policy that Mayor Chavez has put in place that prohibits officers from asking suspects in crimes about their immigration status."
Berry took on another controversial topic saying if elected, he would work to end New Mexico's policy of giving drivers licenses to those in the country illegally.
Mayor Chavez says the accusation that Albuquerque is a sanctuary city is nonsense.
Chavez says police do ask about suspects' immigration status, just not in all situations.
"If there's a suspect in a crime being questioned for a crime, then the officer makes inquiry. What we don't do is on a routine traffic stop, ask people for citizenship papers," he said. "I think most Americans would agree that's not the way to handle traffic stops in America."
divide the community.
The word "sanctuary" is being used to describe Albuquerque's non-discrimination policies. One passed in City Council in 2000 with bipartisan support, and the other is the Albuquerque Police Department's policy which allows officers to question a person's immigration status only if it is pertinent to a criminal investigation. In other words — a police officer should not ask a person to prove their citizenship just because they get the "feeling" that they are not from here. There is nothing in Albuquerque's current policies that provides any protection for immigrants from deportation.
The terminology of “sanctuary city” will continue to be a controversial issue even after today’s election regardless who get elected. It will get plenty of play during elections or every time we have an incident involving illegal immigrants.
deadly armed robbery at Denny's in which at least two thugs suspected of being gangsters associated with the Salvadoran street gang MS-13 shot to death cook Stephanie Anderson. The suspects were all from El Salvador and in the US illegally.
This incident again brought out the issue to the forefront during debates about crime in the city and was routinely a highlight during this election. Although everyone is in agreement that violent crime is not and can never be acceptable in our society, and those who perpetrate it should be held accountable to the full extent of the law, the controversial debate of sanctuary and immigration will continue to be a complex and difficult issue that will not make it easy for us to come together in a comprehensive way, a way that will ensure we are protected from all forms of violence and at the same time retain our civil rights. A delicate balance indeed.
Thank God this election is almost over (unless there is a runoff) but don't count for the issue of illegal immigration to go away any time soon.
It appears that Republican Richard J. Berry has been elected Mayor of Albuquerque with 43.82% of the vote (avoiding a runoff), while Martin J Chavez received 35.02% and Richard M Romero came third with 20.98%. We will follow the new mayor as he deals with the issues of illegal imigration and the Albuquerque police department.
Bloggers posting on results:
- Berry Wins by MG Bralley
- Berry avoids mayoral runoff with general election victory by Peter St Cyr
- Chavez Era Ends As ABQ Picks A Berry by Joe Monahan