Santa Fe home builders discuss protecting ‘sanctuary job sites’

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SANTA FE – The latest iteration of Santa Fe’s pro-immigrant reaction to Donald Trump’s presidential election win may be “sanctuary job sites.”

Wednesday, the Santa Fe Home Builders Association held a luncheon meeting on that topic and heard advice from two advocates for immigrant rights on what to do if immigration enforcement agents show up at a building site or a business office.

“We really do believe that workplace raids will be a big part of this (Trump’s) administration,” said Marcela Diaz, head of Somos Un Pueblo Unido.

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Kim Shanahan, executive officer of the Home Builders Association, has been an outspoken supporter of Santa Fe’s sanctuary city policies against assisting federal authorities in enforcement of immigration law. He said after Wednesday meeting that he estimates that 80 percent of the workers in the local home-building industry are immigrants. Trump has said he wants to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities.

“Hopefully common sense will prevail after the inauguration, but local businesses need to be prepared and know their rights no matter what,” Shanahan said in an announcement for Wednesday’s gathering, which was attended by about 25 people.

Immigration Attorney Allegra Love, director of the Santa Fe Dreames Project, provided recommendations for how to deal with immigration enforcement, starting with planning head for a raid by having a lawyer’s phone number handy and talking to employees ahead of time. For the workers, Love said, “running is never a good idea,” providing grounds for an arrest.

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She also said, “Never lie to law enforcement,” but added that immigrants and employers have the right to remain silent.

Love repeatedly reminded the home builders that they or their employees that don’t have to allow officers on a premises without a warrant. But “that can be extraordinarily difficult to do — you need practice,” said Love, as officers are adept at talking themselves inside or onto a site. “They rarely show up with warrants,” said Diaz. “They rely on permission.”

Love and Diaz said it can be difficult for immigration agent to find people at home. For undocumented immigrants, “The one place they feel vulnerable is the workplace,” Diaz said. Love said that while President Barack Obama has been “a paper raider,” looking for undocumented immigrants through audits, workplace raids could increase as a way to round up big numbers of people quickly.

Love and Diaz reminded those at the lunch of ICE raids in Santa Fe in 2007 that drove immigrants off the streets and away from jobs, schools and stores. Love, a teacher at the time, said only three of her students at Agua Fria Elementary showed up for the week of the raids. A building supplier chimed in that her contractor customers stopped coming in. Diaz said the impact of the 2007 raid showed that immigration enforcement is an issue for all of Santa Fe, not just undocumented immigrants.

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