The school board in Las Cruces wants to coordinate with other local governments to protect immigrants who could face deportation while Donald Trump is president.
On Tuesday, members of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution calling for the creation of a task force to “study and recommend consistent policy language that can be used by the City, County, and public schools in the creation of ‘sanctuary status’ for residents and students.”
The resolution praises outgoing President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, which allows some immigrants without legal status who came to the United States as children to remain in the country and work here. DACA “will enable our qualifying students to attend college, work, and pursue a career and thus encourage them to do well in school and to graduate,” the resolution states.
It also praises Obama’s other immigration-related executive order, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which would allow some immigrants without legal status who have children living in the United States legally to remain in the country and work here. DAPA is facing legal challenges and has not been implemented.
DAPA, the school board’s resolution states, “will enable our qualifying parents to obtain better employment and provide more economic security and stability for their children and thus more support for their education.”
Immigrants without legal status have been of particular concern to many as Trump prepares to take office. He has pledged to rescind DACA, though he has also waffled on that pledge. He has threatened to cut federal funding for cities that shelter immigrants without legal status. And he has committed to deporting millions.
In response, some local governments have declared themselves sanctuaries that won’t cooperate with federal immigration officials and will fight deportation efforts in their communities. The City of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Public Schools are among them.
In Las Cruces, the school board’s resolution calls for the creation of a task force that includes representatives from the City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, all three school districts in the county, three nonprofit organizations that work on immigration issues, area legislators, and two members of the public.
The task force would create “sanctuary” policies all area governments could enact and report back to the government agencies’ policymaking bodies in a joint session by May 2017.
Whether the school board will find the other government agencies open to the effort isn’t clear. Doña Ana County already has a policy that prohibits the county from requesting or sharing the immigration status of people, making county services or benefits dependent on immigration status, or “cooperating, in one’s official capacity, with any (U.S.) Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection investigation, detention or arrest procedures, public or clandestine, relating to alleged violations of the civil provisions of federal immigration law.”
But the policy was implemented by the current commissioners. Come January, three of five will leave office and be replaced by new commissioners who won election in November.
As for Las Cruces, Mayor Ken Miyagishima was quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News last month in opposition to sanctuary status.
“The city of Las Cruces is not a sanctuary city, nor do I support becoming one,” Miyagishima was quoted as saying. “The Las Cruces Police Department does not enforce federal regulation or immigration laws. … If a person is pulled over they will not be asked for their citizenship.”
LCPD has a policy stating that enforcement of federal immigration law is “exclusively” the federal government’s job, the Sun-News reported. The policy states that officers should not seek proof of a person’s immigration status or refer complaints related to immigration to federal law enforcement agencies. But the policy allows LCPD officers to call federal agents when someone volunteers his or her immigration status, the Sun-News reported.