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New Mexico bill aims to limit immigration detention centers

March 6, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new proposal would restrict federal contracts for immigration detention centers and could make New Mexico a sanctuary state.

Democratic state Reps. Angelica Rubio and Antonio “Moe” Maestas are pushing a bill that limits the use of state and local resources for civil immigration custody or detention purposes.

Under the proposal, state law enforcement agencies would not be able to sign new federal contracts or renew current ones involving civil immigration custody unless there have been two public meetings.

Legislative analysts say the bill potentially could make New Mexico a sanctuary state in the view of the federal government and cost the state millions of dollars in federal grants.

“In the case of many federal law enforcement grants, the federal government requires immigration cooperation assurances as a prerequisite to receiving funding,” according to the bill’s fiscal impact report prepared by the Legislative Finance Committee.

For example, last summer states nationwide, including New Mexico, did not receive more than $335 million allocated for U.S. Department of Justice assistance formula grants.

House Republicans are expected to strongly oppose the bill.

Cibola County Correctional Center, a privately run prison operated by the Nashville- Tennessee-based CoreCivic, functions as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. That center and its cash-strapped county could lose a lucrative federal contract under the proposal.

Cibola County Manager Kate Fletcher did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press.

But Cibola County Commissioner Robert Windhorst, a Republican, denounced the bill and said it’s part of a liberal Democratic agenda to close privately funded prisons.

“The state wants to protect coyotes and wolves, raise taxes, limit the 2nd Amendment rights of honest, law-abiding citizens, give no protections to the unborn and protect the rights of illegal aliens (who) have invaded our borders,” Windhorst said.

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