Earlier this week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling for “sanctuary jurisdictions” to comply with federal immigration law or have their federal funding pulled.
The order has prompted mixture of resistance and support from local lawmakers and police departments in the so-called “sanctuary cities.”
Trump’s order threatens to cut funding to cities that refuse to honour federal requests to detain undocumented inmates who were arrested on charges unrelated to immigration.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was the first to fall in line with Trump’s order on Thursday, directing county jails to cooperate with federal detainer requests, the Miami Herald reported.
“In light of the provisions of the Executive Order, I direct you and your staff to honour all immigration detainer requests received from the Department of Homeland Security,” Gimenez wrote to the county’s corrections department.
The move drew praise from Trump himself, who tweeted that Gimenez had made the “right decision.”
While Miami-Dade had never declared itself a “sanctuary,” it has refused since 2013 to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s requests due to the high costs of indefinitely detaining inmates, according to the Herald.
Other cities have not been so compliant. Numerous mayors and police chiefs across the country have spoken out against Trump’s threats to withhold federal funds.
“We’re going to defend all of our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told media on Wednesday.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh went even bolder, offering up City Hall to shelter those who feel unjustly targeted.
“To anyone who feels threatened today or vulnerable, you are safe in Boston,” Walsh said at a press conference.
A coalition of mayors and police chiefs across the country issued a joint statement on Wednesday expressing “strong reservations” about such a policy and suggesting it could even be “unconstitutional.”
The Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents 63 large police departments “is just fundamentally opposed to using federal funding to try and coerce our local policing,” J. Thomas Manger, head of the association, told the Washington Post.
But law enforcement officials are far from unified on the issue — while officials in large cities have defended their sanctuary city status, some police unions and many small-town sheriffs have come out in favour of Trump’s order.
The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 18,000 departments across the country, praised Trump’s executive order for cracking down on sanctuary cities, while voicing some concern over the implicit threat to jeopardize citizens’ safety over their politicians’ stances on the issue.
“We’re actually heartened,” the union’s executive director Jim Pasco told the Post, “by the fact that the administration appears to have taken our concerns to heart and they’re reflected in the executive order.”
‘Driving people into the shadows’
Sanctuary cities’ refusal to comply with the detainers could meet more than just federal resistance. The Republican governors of several states have voiced support for Trump’s executive order, and, in Texas’ case, even threatened further penalties to uncooperative jurisdictions.
In Texas, one local sheriff’s refusal to comply with most federal detainers prompted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday to say he plans to remove her from office and strip state grant funding from the county.
Abbott made the comments after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced last Friday that her office will no longer honour Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers unless the suspects are charged with murder, sexual assault, or human smuggling, or unless a court order is issued.
In a nine-minute video, Hernandez explained that complying with the detainers doesn’t foster public safety, and instead presents the sheriff’s office with a host of logistical and legal complications.
Honouring federal detainers distracts local law enforcement from public safety, and can interfere with the criminal justice process, Hernandez said. Immigration detainers result in the deportation of inmates before their court dates, which deprives their victims of a role in the criminal justice process. Alternatively, inmates are sometimes held long past their release dates, tying up jail beds and costing taxpayer dollars that do not get reimbursed by the federal government.
The practice also winds up discouraging undocumented victims from reporting crimes committed against them, out of fear that they will be deported, she said.
“We cannot afford to make our community less safe by driving people into the shadows,” Hernandez said in the video.
“This office will not increase our liability or set unwise public safety priorities simply to ease the burden of the federal government.”
In response, Abbott called Hernandez’s actions “reckless” and said he will seek a new law to oust sheriffs from office if they don’t comply with federal immigration authorities, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
“Unless you reverse your policy prior to its effective date, your unilateral decision will cost the people of Travis County money that was meant to be used to protect them.”
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