SA mayoral candidates talk about sanctuary cities at forum

SAN ANTONIO – Three San Antonio mayoral candidates spoke at a forum Saturday about whether they would lead the city toward becoming a so-called sanctuary city.

Mayor Ivy Taylor, District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina were asked about the issue at the forum held by the Asian American Alliance. The questions arose from a framework of state and national politics.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month that includes withholding federal funds from communities with sanctuary policies. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and legislators have talked about something similar.

There's no formal definition of a sanctuary city, and Taylor said San Antonio is not one. San Antonio police, however, do not ask about someone's immigration status.

Taylor and Nirenberg both said police should focus on crime.

"I really want to focus on police officers doing their job to drive down the crime rate in San Antonio," Taylor said, "and that means every person who lives in San Antonio needs to feel comfortable and confident that they can approach the police."

Nirenberg said San Antonio police need to focus on crime and said he trusts San Antonio police Chief William McManus "far more" than a politician in Austin.

"When there are funding implications, we will tackle those. But right now, we are not going to have the governor of the state of Texas set local policy on keeping our streets and our neighborhoods safe," Nirenberg said.

Medina took the opportunity to knock the City Council for not, in his view, standing up to Trump. His comments on being a sanctuary city were brief.

"Let me tell you what it is. It's protecting good people and deporting bad people. And 99.9 percent of immigrants are good people,” Medina said. “The .01 that are bad. We can deport them. We can agree with that."

Taylor, Nirenberg and Medina are three of 14 candidates running for mayor. The election takes place May 6.

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About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.