Honolulu isn’t a ‘sanc­tu­ary city’ in pres­i­dent’s crosshairs

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL - CHRIS­TINE DON­NELLY

Ques­tion: Is Honolulu a sanc­tu­ary city and county, as many other cities are across the na­tion, in vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral laws, thereby jeop­ar­diz­ing our fed­eral funds for our Po­lice and Fire de­part­ments and the city’s beloved rail pro­ject?

An­swer: No. Your ques­tion refers to an ex­ec­u­tive or­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed Jan. 25 seek­ing to deny fed­eral fund­ing to “sanc­tu­ary cities,” a phrase used to de­scribe places that limit lo­cal law en­force­ment’s co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents. You can read the or­der at 808ne.ws/DJTJan25. At least five states and 633 coun­ties have laws or poli­cies de­signed to pre­vent city, county or state law en­force­ment from help­ing fed­eral agents de­tain un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, but no place in Hawaii is among them, ac­cord­ing to data from the Im­mi­grant Le­gal Re­source Cen­ter as re­ported by The New York Times. See a map at 808ne.ws/sanctmap.

To be clear, sanc­tu­ary sta­tus doesn’t pre­vent lo­cal po­lice from ar­rest­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who com­mit crimes and doesn’t pre­vent fed­eral agents from de­port­ing peo­ple. It mainly keeps lo­cal au­thor­i­ties from de­tain­ing im­mi­grants at the re­quest of fed­eral of­fi­cials.

As we said, nei­ther Hawaii nor Honolulu is a sanc­tu­ary, al­though of­fi­cials here em­pha­sized that lo­cal law en­force­ment doesn’t go look­ing to en­force im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions.

Kokua Line re­vised your ques­tion when we asked lo­cal ex­perts, be­cause when we pre­sented it to Vir­ginia Kice, a spokes­woman for U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, she said that “sanc­tu­ary city” was an amor­phous term. So we asked, Do lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies hand over il­le­gal im­mi­grants to fed­eral agents for de­por­ta­tion? Kice de­clined to an­swer that ques­tion, too, say­ing it should be di­rected to the Po­lice Depart­ment or city gov­ern­ment.

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Mayor Kirk Cald­well, co­or­di­nated a re­sponse with the Honolulu Po­lice Depart­ment and the state At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice. He said: “Honolulu po­lice treat all peo­ple on Oahu equally. HPD of­fi­cers do not ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment. They do not keep im­mi­gra­tion data nor do they have ac­cess to im­mi­gra­tion data, ex­cept through fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. HPD ar­rests are based on sus­pected crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, not im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions. “How­ever, there are oc­ca­sions when fed­eral au­thor­i­ties, such as Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, will re­quest that an in­di­vid­ual who has been ar­rested by HPD be trans­ferred to fed­eral cus­tody. HPD notes that this oc­curs in­fre­quently as im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment is pri­mar­ily a fed­eral func­tion, but they do honor spe­cific re­quests made by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. “Honolulu is one of the most di­verse cities in the United States of Amer­ica, and we have a his­tory of wel­com­ing di­verse cul­tures with aloha. Peo­ple from all back­grounds, eth­nic­i­ties, re­li­gions and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tions are wel­come in Honolulu, and Mayor Cald­well op­poses the ex­ec­u­tive or­der pro­hibit­ing travel to the U.S. by cit­i­zens of cer­tain Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tions.” (That last part refers to a sep­a­rate ex­ec­u­tive or­der by Trump.) Joshua Wisch, spe­cial as­sis­tant to the at­tor­ney gen­eral, of­fered ad­di­tional de­tail, say­ing, “The state of Hawaii is not in the busi­ness of en­forc­ing fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws. As a re­sult, state law en­force­ment of­fi­cials are not look­ing for peo­ple who may not have the proper doc­u­men­ta­tion in or­der to turn them over to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. At this time, how­ever, if law en­force­ment is al­ready en­forc­ing a war­rant or makes an ar­rest — on a mat­ter com­pletely un­re­lated to some­one’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, and it turns out that per­son does not have the proper im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­men­ta­tion — then the state may no­tify the rel­e­vant fed­eral au­thor­i­ties.”

——— Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Ad­ver­tiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokua­line@starad­ver­tiser.com.

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