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