Aztec officials dispute listing as sanctuary city

Hannah Grover The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The city of Aztec is one of three New Mexico communities listed as a "sanctuary" city, but officials say they do not know how Aztec ended up on the list.

The list, compiled by the Ohio Jobs and Justice PAC — a civil rights and advocacy group that focuses on issues in that state, as well as across the nation — includes cities that have adopted written policies to decline U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers and cities that have in the past declined an ICE detainer.

"That's the website that people are using now," Aztec City Manager Josh Ray said, referencing the pac's website,

Sanctuary cities are communities that refuse to comply with ICE detainers and have policies obstructing a federal law that allows illegal immigrants to be deported without seeking criminal warrants or convictions from federal, state, or local courts, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Aztec was added to the list in 2010 and has requested to be removed. In 2010, the city received calls about the listing, Ray said.

This month, City Commissioner Sheri Rogers was asked about it, prompting her to express her concerns about the listing during a commission meeting Tuesday evening.

The city initially was placed on the list when a 2006 Congressional Research Service report included Aztec. By 2009, Aztec had been removed from that list.

In August 2010, the office of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-Santa Fe, contacted the OJJPAC to inform the organization that Aztec was not a sanctuary city.

While a sanctuary cities list provided by the Ohio organization includes Aztec, other lists, such as one provided by the Center for Immigration Studies, do not. The CIS list is based on places that have refused ICE detainers between January and August 2014.

Ray said Aztec's policies do not align with the criteria required to be a sanctuary city.

"We're very confident that we're not a sanctuary city," Ray said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.