Lo­cal­i­ties es­ca­late ‘sanc­tu­ary’ de­bate

Trump praises Cal­i­for­nia rebels

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER AND STEPHEN DINAN

Pres­i­dent Trump still dom­i­nates the sanc­tu­ary city con­ver­sa­tion, but the bat­tle­ground has shifted from feds ver­sus the states to one that pits states against their own cities and coun­ties.

From Cal­i­for­nia to Texas to In­di­ana, states that have at­tempted to set rules for how much co­op­er­a­tion their po­lice are al­lowed — or re­quired — to give fed­eral of­fi­cials on im­mi­gra­tion cases are find­ing that those rules are be­ing chal­lenged, evaded or oth­er­wise thwarted by lo­cal of­fi­cials de­ter­mined to go their own way.

In some cases, the cities and coun­ties are de­fy­ing Mr. Trump and state lead­ers who want to sup­port the pres­i­dent. Other times it’s the states that are de­fy­ing Mr. Trump and cities and coun­ties that are ral­ly­ing to sup­port him.

The pres­i­dent lent his sup­port Wed­nes­day by speak­ing with Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials who are re­sist­ing their state’s strict sanc­tu­ary law.

“It’s be­com­ing quite pop­u­lar what you’re do­ing — [fight­ing] a law that forces the re­lease of il­le­gal im­mi­grant crim­i­nals, drug deal­ers, gang mem­bers and vi­o­lent preda­tors into your com­mu­ni­ties,” Mr. Trump said.

While Mr. Trump praised the Cal­i­for­nia rebels, lo­cal re­sis­tance else­where is de­cid­edly against him.

In In­di­ana, the cities of Gary and East Chicago are battling

law­suits say­ing they are break­ing a statewide an­ti­sanc­tu­ary pol­icy.

In Texas, a num­ber of cities fought — and lost — a bat­tle against Gov. Greg Ab­bott’s am­bi­tious sanc­tu­ary crack­down, which even in­cludes penal­ties against lo­cal of­fi­cials who try to es­tab­lish sanc­tu­ar­ies.

A Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form re­port last week found the num­ber of sanc­tu­ar­ies has soared un­der Mr. Trump, with about half of the coun­try now cov­ered by some non­com­pli­ance pol­icy.

But that has only em­bold­ened the back­lash. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a sanc­tu­ary ban last month.

In Ten­nessee, Gov. Bill Haslam is on the clock after the leg­is­la­ture sent him an anti-sanc­tu­ary bill last week. Mr. Haslam has un­til this week­end to de­cide whether to sign or veto the bill, or let it be­come law with­out his sig­na­ture.

Rep. Diane Black, a Repub­li­can who is look­ing for a pro­mo­tion to the gov­er­nor, has launched a pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing that he sign it. The Nashville City Coun­cil this week urged a veto, warn­ing that it would lead to racial pro­fil­ing.

The ex­pe­ri­ence in Texas, where the state’s an­ti­sanc­tu­ary law has been largely in ef­fect for months, sug­gests it has had little ef­fect. The New York Times in March found that Hous­ton po­lice had made just two im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus in­quiries of peo­ple they en­coun­tered, while Austin re­ported just a sin­gle sta­tus in­quiry.

Randy Capps, di­rec­tor of U.S. re­search at the Cen­ter for Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy, said the sanc­tu­ary de­bate re­flects the po­lar­ized pol­i­tics of the day, with some on both sides mov­ing away from the cen­ter.

But he fig­ures most ju­ris­dic­tions are prob­a­bly some­where in the mid­dle.

“You have a lot of places that have re­ally tried to avoid the is­sue and taken a mid­dle ground,” he said, though he added that it is be­com­ing tougher as the sanc­tu­ary de­bate gets tied in with elec­tion cam­paigns.

Sanc­tu­ary defenders say they are not pro-il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion or pro-crim­i­nal but that their job is to en­force lo­cal laws, not fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion mat­ters.

Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra, who is de­fend­ing his state’s poli­cies in court, said Mr. Trump’s round­table with sanc­tu­ary op­po­nents amounted to “scape­goat­ing and fear­mon­ger­ing.”

“While Pres­i­dent Trump seems to think our lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies should do the job of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, we’re in the busi­ness of pub­lic safety, not de­por­ta­tion,” he said.

SB 54, Cal­i­for­nia’s main sanc­tu­ary law, pro­hibits state and lo­cal po­lice from ask­ing about im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, hold­ing peo­ple for pickup by im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties, or no­ti­fy­ing de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers when an il­le­gal im­mi­grant is about to be re­leased from state or lo­cal cus­tody. Other state sanc­tu­ary laws give im­mi­grants in Cal­i­for­nia cus­tody the right to refuse to talk to fed­eral de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers and limit pri­vate busi­nesses in how they are able to co­op­er­ate with im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers.

Mr. Be­cerra said the state’s law “works in con­cert” with fed­eral laws.

The lo­cal re­sisters beg to dif­fer.

Los Alami­tos, a small city in Or­ange County about 20 miles south of Los An­ge­les, en­acted a mea­sure in March ex­empt­ing it­self from the state’s SB 54 law, which pro­hibits lo­cal po­lice from of­fer­ing sub­stan­tive co­op­er­a­tion to fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

Hunt­ing­ton Beach, a sea­side city of about 200,000 peo­ple in Or­ange County, sued Cal­i­for­nia in state court, hop­ing to side­line SB 54.

In yet a third form of re­sis­tance, Or­ange County and a num­ber of other ju­ris­dic­tions have signed onto a fed­eral law­suit filed by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ask­ing U.S. courts to rule SB 54 as un­con­sti­tu­tional be­cause it tram­ples on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s power to con­trol im­mi­gra­tion.

“This is your Repub­li­can re­sis­tance right here,” Melissa Me­len­dez, a mem­ber of the Cal­i­for­nia As­sem­bly, told Mr. Trump at Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing.

Michael Gates, the city at­tor­ney in Hunt­ing­ton Beach, said he was “a little sur­prised” that the White House didn’t in­vite of­fi­cials from his city to the meet­ing with Mr. Trump.

“What we’ve ad­vanced against the state, what we’ve filed in court is much, much stronger than any­thing else the other cities have done,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

He was con­fi­dent that the sanc­tu­ary state law “on its face” was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Mr. Capps, at the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute, said the big le­gal ques­tion is what level of gov­ern­ment is go­ing to win among the lo­cal­i­ties, the states and the feds.

He said there is a con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment that states will pre­vail, which could leave in force pro-sanc­tu­ary laws, such as Cal­i­for­nia’s, and an­ti­sanc­tu­ary laws, such as those in Texas, on the books.

But James Bopp Jr., an In­di­ana lawyer rep­re­sent­ing res­i­dents who are chal­leng­ing the sanc­tu­ary poli­cies in Gary and East Chicago, said the order of pri­macy is clearly on the fed­eral side.

“States are ob­li­gated to fol­low, and lo­cal gov­ern­ments are ob­li­gated to fol­low fed­eral law, and fed­eral law is supreme un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion,” he said. “It’s not up to in­di­vid­ual pub­lic of­fi­cials to de­cide what laws they’re go­ing to fol­low and what laws they’re not go­ing to fol­low.

“We fought a civil war over the ques­tion,” he said. “The nul­li­fi­ca­tion side lost. Now, in­ter­est­ingly of course, at that time the Democrats were in fa­vor of nul­li­fi­ca­tion to pro­tect slav­ery. Now they’re in fa­vor of nul­li­fi­ca­tion to pro­tect il­le­gal im­mi­grants. So there is a con­sis­tency there.”

He said the Gary and East Chicago sanc­tu­ary poli­cies even order po­lice to avoid ar­rest­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants if there is any al­ter­na­tive. Al­though it’s un­clear what al­ter­na­tives there would be in a given case, he said, the ef­fect of that pol­icy is to make ev­ery of­fi­cer fear sec­ond-guess­ing by su­per­vi­sors.

“In order to pro­tect them from de­por­ta­tion, they want to pro­tect them from be­ing charged with crimes,” he said.

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