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City manager says sanctuary city listing has not hurt Aztec

City has disputed its presence on list for several years

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
  • Aztec was added to the Ohio Jobs and Justice PAC list in 2010.
  • An executive order signed by President Trump directs the withholding of federal funds from sanctuary cities.
City Manager Joshua Ray says Aztec's inclusion on a list of sanctuary cities created by a nongovernment organization in Ohio has not caused it any problems, even as the federal government cracks down on such communities.

FARMINGTON — Aztec City Manager Joshua Ray says having the city mistakenly listed on the Ohio Jobs and Justice PAC's list of sanctuary cities has not led to problems following a federal crackdown on sanctuary cities this year.

Ray said Aztec is not concerned about losing federal funding, and the city would agree if the government wants to review Aztec's policies.

OJJPAC was the first nongovernment organization to create a list of sanctuary cities. Aztec has been on the list since May 2010 — and has disputed the listing.

Sanctuary cities are characterized as those that refuse to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those communities have policies obstructing federal laws that allow illegal immigrants to be deported without criminal warrants or convictions.

More:Santa Fe City Council passes immigrant-friendly resolution

Ray said Aztec cooperates with immigration laws. Ray said the city has addressed and reviewed OJJPAC's listing, and he is not aware of any policy that would make Aztec a sanctuary city.

Other organizations that have compiled lists of so-called sanctuary cities do not include Aztec.

"We don't do anything different for individuals whether they're citizens or noncitizens," he said. 

Sanctuary cities have received national attention following an executive order signed by President Trump in January. The executive order directs the withholding of federal funds from sanctuary cities. 

Since then, municipalities like the city of Santa Fe that are sanctuary cities have filed a lawsuit against the federal government. Santa Fe's mayor has said the city will not retreat from its sanctuary status.

More:Phoenix police may change immigration-enforcement policy

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned four cities nationwide, including Albuquerque, that the U.S. Department of Justice could withhold federal crime-fighting resources if they don't prove they will cooperate with immigration officials. Like Aztec, Albuquerque disputes its listing as a sanctuary city. Albuquerque rescinded its sanctuary city policies in 2010.

"So-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said in a press release at the end of July.

More:Pro-immigrant rally draws dozens of participants

Sessions said only cities and states that comply with federal laws, allow immigration officials access to detention facilities and provide 48 hours of notice before they release illegal immigrants wanted by federal authorities will be eligible for the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.

"This is consistent with long-established cooperative principles among law enforcement agencies," he said in the press release. "This is what the American people should be able to expect from their cities and states, and these long overdue requirements will help us take down MS-13 and other violent transnational gangs, and make our country safer."

Ray said Aztec is not concerned about losing federal funding. He said he does not know how the city was added to OJJPAC's list. Other sanctuary city lists, such as the Center for Immigration Studies' list, do not include Aztec.

More:Police: Immigration memos to have little effect

While city officials say the city was mistakenly added, OJJPAC continues to list Aztec. OJJPAC's website states that the city was identified by a Congressional Research Service 2006 report to the U.S. Congress. The group recognizes that Aztec has disputed the listing, but states that officials have not sent OJJPAC a copy of the city's policy.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.