ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new proposal would prevent New Mexico law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration laws and turn the state with the largest percentage of Hispanic residents into a "sanctuary state."
Under a bill introduced by Democratic state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, of Albuquerque, New Mexico police departments or sheriff's offices would be prohibited from cooperating with federal agents in deporting immigrants suspected of living in the country illegally.
In addition, the measure would ban New Mexico agencies from getting "federal funds, equipment, personnel or resources for the purpose of detecting or apprehending" such immigrants.
"This bill focuses on protecting our hardworking immigrant families and ensuring our law enforcement can focus on protecting our communities from violent crime, rather than tearing families apart," Roybal Caballero said. "Now that we have a threat to our state's values in the White House, we must do everything we can to keep our families strong and together."
The proposal comes as a number of New Mexico cities and towns have declared themselves "sanctuaries" for immigrants living in the country illegally. Activists have pressed cities and towns for the declaration amid uncertainty from President Donald Trump.
The new president campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and promised to deploy a "deportation force."
Democratic-led state legislatures are expected to push similar measures in defiance of Trump.
But the fate of Roybal Caballero's sanctuary state legislation is unclear, even in New Mexico where immigrants suspected of living in the country illegally can attend college at in-state tuition rate and apply for the state-funded lottery scholarships.
Democrats control the New Mexico Senate and the House, but the governor is a Republican.
"While we haven't reviewed the legislation, the governor's stance on these issues has always been clear," said Michael Lonergan, a spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
Lonergan said the Republican governor's views on immigration have been shaped as a former prosecutor from a border district for more than 20 years. "It's never been about immigration — it's about public safety," he said,
Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Martinez signed an executive order rescinding sanctuary status for immigrants living in the country illegally and who commit crimes in New Mexico.
A spokeswoman for the House Republicans did not immediately return an email.
Roybal Caballero is the national treasurer of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group.