Sanc­tu­ary cities’ hon­esty at is­sue

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - SADIE GURMAN In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Er­rin Haines Whack, Sophia Ta­reen, Ivan Moreno, Adri­ana Gomez Li­con, Michael Kun­zel­man and Ken Rit­ter of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

WASH­ING­TON — The Jus­tice Depart­ment on Thurs­day ques­tioned whether some so-called sanc­tu­ary cities re­sponded hon­estly when asked if they fol­low the law on shar­ing the cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus of people in their cus­tody with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

In a state­ment, the depart­ment said some of the 10 ju­ris­dic­tions un­der scru­tiny in­sist they are com­pli­ant with the law while still de­fi­antly re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate with ef­forts to de­tain and de­port in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally. The Jus­tice Depart­ment said it was re­view­ing poli­cies of the ju­ris­dic­tions to de­ter­mine whether they should lose some fed­eral grant money for fail­ing to prove they are ad­her­ing to fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law.

The cities in­clude New York, Chicago, New Or­leans and Philadel­phia, which said in its let­ter to the depart­ment that the city was ad­her­ing to the law even while re­fus­ing to col­lect in­for­ma­tion on res­i­dents’ im­mi­gra­tion sta­tuses.

Also on the list are two states — Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut — along with Mi­amiDade County in Florida; Cook County in Illi­nois; Mil­wau­kee County in Wis­con­sin; and Clark County in Ne­vada.

The lo­cales were sin­gled out last year by the depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral for hav­ing rules that hin­der the abil­ity of lo­cal law en­force­ment to com­mu­ni­cate with fed­eral of­fi­cials about the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of people they have de­tained. The cities dis­agreed with that as­sess­ment, saying their rules com­port with the spe­cific sec­tion of fed­eral law that bars mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from forc­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials to keep cer­tain in­for­ma­tion from fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

“They are hav­ing it both ways now,” said Leon Fresco, who led the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Of­fice of Im­mi­gra­tion Li­ga­tion dur­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. “The cities are saying, we will not in any way do any­thing that af­fir­ma­tively in­creases the amount of im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment that is oc­cur­ring in our city. Hav­ing said that, if a fed­eral of­fi­cial asks us for in­for­ma­tion, we will pro­vide this in­for­ma­tion.”

The move was the lat­est by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to crack down on lo­ca­tions that have been char­ac­ter­ized as sanc­tu­ary cities. It fol­lows the sign­ing of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that also went after fed­eral money go­ing to such lo­ca­tions, but a judge later blocked that, saying the pres­i­dent could not set new con­di­tions on spend­ing ap­proved by Con­gress.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment con­tends that the ex­ec­u­tive or­der ap­plies to a rel­a­tively small amount of money, specif­i­cally the few grants that re­quire lo­cal­i­ties to com­ply with the in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing law. Fresco said that nar­row stan­dard likely means many cities will be con­sid­ered in com­pli­ance, even if they re­main de­fi­ant of Trump im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

“They are as­sert­ing strict tech­ni­cal com­pli­ance, but they are not as­sert­ing that they ac­tu­ally af­fir­ma­tively pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to the fed­eral govern­ment,” he said.

The ju­ris­dic­tions on Thurs­day stood by their poli­cies:

■ Cook County, Ill., pro­vided fed­eral of­fi­cials an eight­page le­gal opin­ion as­sert­ing its com­pli­ance, adding: “The United States Con­sti­tu­tion, how­ever, lim­its the au­thor­ity of the fed­eral govern­ment to im­pose its im­mi­gra­tion obli­ga­tions onto state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments.”

■ Chicago also said it was fol­low­ing the law. “But make no mis­take, Chicago will con­tinue to be a wel­com­ing city and stand up for the val­ues that have made us a beacon of hope for im­mi­grants and refugees from around the world for gen­er­a­tions,” city spokesman Jen­nifer Martinez said in a state­ment.

■ Mi­ami-Dade County sent a 423-page doc­u­ment to the Jus­tice Depart­ment with in­for­ma­tion on the process its jail­ers fol­low to no­tify im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties of people who were set to be re­leased and had been pre­vi­ously wanted by Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment for pos­si­ble de­por­ta­tion. ■ Mil­wau­kee County at­tor­ney Mar­garet Daun warned that if grant fund­ing is pulled, “the County would avail it­self of all le­gal op­tions avail­able to it and raise nu­mer­ous le­gal ar­gu­ments.”

■ New Or­leans re­minded the Jus­tice Depart­ment that it adopted its im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus pol­icy in ac­cor­dance with a fed­eral con­sent de­cree on po­lice over­hauls that it ne­go­ti­ated with the Jus­tice Depart­ment dur­ing Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. A court-ap­pointed mon­i­tor re­viewed and ap­proved the pol­icy lan­guage, the city noted.

■ And the sher­iff in Clark County, Nev., sent more than 100 pages of doc­u­ments he said demon­strate po­lice and jail­ers in Las Ve­gas co­op­er­ate with im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties, not­ing that some jail of­fi­cers are “dep­u­tized to carry out spe­cific im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer du­ties” and are ex­pected to col­lab­o­rate with Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

AP/MARK J. TERRILL

Cal­i­for­nia state Sen­ate Pres­i­dent pro Tem­pore Kevin de Leon (left), for­mer U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder (cen­ter) and Los Angeles Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck hold a news con­fer­ence June 19 to dis­cuss the pro­posed so-called Cal­i­for­nia “sanc­tu­ary state bill” in Los Angeles.

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