Monday, January 25, 2010

NM Faith Coalition Meets with Mayor's Office about Immigration Policy

Fifty five local religious leaders signed a letter from the NM Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice to Mayor Berry expressing concern about immigration policy in Albuquerque. Every member of City Council was cc'd on the letter.

After receiving the letter, the mayor's office offered to meet with the coalition. Five representatives of the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, including a Catholic priest & new immigrant, an Episcopalian & ESL teacher, a Unitarian & immigration attorney, a Christian leader and former APD/Community Relations board member, and a recent immigrant, met with a representative of Mayor Berry's office for more than an hour to discuss policy.

The mayor's office was presented with faith statements on immigration from the mainstream Christian, Jewish and Muslim perspectives. He was also provided with a study conducted by the National Police Foundation in May 2009 that found that when local law enforcement tries to enforce federal immigration law, the result is a decrease in public safety, a diversion of scarce resources, and an undermining of police-community relations. Read the study here:

We urged Mayor Berry's office to change current APD policy regarding certification of crime victims applying for a U-visa (specific visa granted to crime victims and witnesses who assist with prosecution)—currently APD has a blanket policy NOT to certify these victims, requiring that U-visa petitioners go to NM state police for certification, which is difficult and time-consuming. We also expressed that we do not support a change in APD policy which would mean enforcing federal immigration laws (the work of ICE not local law enforcement).

We were pleased that the mayor's assistant took extensive notes and dialogued with us for almost 1.5 hours. We look forward to ways in which we can help create better public safety policies in Albuquerque which reduce racial profiling and criminalization of migrants.

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