Town council passes resolution protecting 'Dreamers'

Busking ordinance tabled, animal shelter contract extended in other actions

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Following suit with Taos County, the town of Taos Council approved a resolution Dec. 12 in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - known Dreamers.

The town council unanimously approved the resolution as part of their consent agenda during their regular meeting, which included a number of issues. Other items on the consent agenda included a contract to continue monthly payments to the Stray Hearts Animal Shelter. In addition, the council tabled a proposed busking ordinance, heard a presentation from the town's tourism department about a bus route between Taos and Taos Ski Valley and also approved the most recent changes to the state Uniform Traffic Ordinances.

Taos County DACA recipients - those brought to the United States as children by their parents without papers and given temporary permission to remain - can rest easy knowing both governments in the area are supportive of their status in the U.S. and have elected to continue to support efforts on the federal level to extend protection. According to the resolution, "Dreamers have made an essential contribution to local economies, educational institutions and the U.S. military. The elimination of DACA could have devastating consequences for local businesses and schools, and especially institutions of higher learning."

Several communities and cities across the U.S. have passed resolutions in favor of DACA recipients who were given legal amnesty in 2012 by the Obama administration to be able to pursue American education and employment despite their parent's lack of legal citizenship status. Dreamers under DACA must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 and also must have been in the U.S. before they turned 16 in order to receive protection under the act.

The council also approved a continuation for the contract to Stray Hearts Animal Shelter up to June 30, 2018 in which the town will be providing $8,333.33 per month to the shelter as it has done in the past. The amount of the contract is not set to increase.

"Any amount is much needed," said Stray Hearts Board President Barbara Ann Downs vanCalsem.

After several hours of discussion and public testimony from both those for and against the busking ordinance, the town council decided to vote to table the motion for the time being. Business owners and buskers shared their opinions on the proposed ordinance that would set new rules for busking, performing on the street, and panhandling within the town limits on the plaza. Businesses owners feels that there is a select group of individuals who have harassed and driven away tourists and are pushing for an ordinance to be able to regulate the area around their shops and the shops of others. Buskers even gave testimony describing similar situations of harassment from some who hang around the plaza and antagonize tourists and shoppers and even retaliate against shop owners.

"I definitely think that some aspects of this (ordinance) should definitely go through," said business owner Marshall Thompson during the meeting. "I really hope this is not let go, and I hope that something is passed because it is hurting us and it's infuriating."

During the meeting, the council also approved a memorandum of agreement for bus services between the village Taos Ski Valley and the town of Taos which would include additional bus runs to bring visitors back from the ski valley to Taos for both lunch and evening activities. The agreement comes with an increase from around $12,000, according to Taos Marketing and Tourism Director Karina Armijo, to $19,600 from the town.

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