Jan 062017

by Sheldon Davidson…….

Sheldon Davidson

Key West email and letter writers, hostile to the proposal of Commissioner Jimmy Weekley to have our city become a sanctuary city, have accused major American cities, such as, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, of breaking federal law for protecting and failing to pursue undocumented immigrants. The principal argument advanced has been that sanctuary cities, a term undefined in law, are required by federal law to actively assist federal agents in arresting and deporting such aliens.

Joining the objectors is The Key West Citizen. That newspaper argued, without citing any legal or factual authority, that the proposal of Weekley places the city at substantial risk of losing federal aid and grants, has not been carefully considered for the “collateral impacts that may result,” and promotes the willful disobedience of federal law.

These contentions have no basis in law. Federal statutes only prohibit states and cities from restricting its enforcement officials from communicating to federal immigration investigators information regarding matters relating to a person’s citizenship or immigration status. There are no current federal laws that permit the withholding of federal funds from cities for not enforcing federal laws regarding illegal entries, undocumented aliens and deportation.

Are state and local governments required to help the feds enforce federal law? In a word: “No.” Stated somewhat differently: Would Key West if it were a sanctuary city have the right to refuse to help enforce federal laws on immigration and deportation of illegal residents? The answer is “Of course.”

What is a sanctuary city? It’s a short-handed term to describe cities that decline to help the feds find illegal aliens—they do not question the residents of those cities as to whether they entered the country illegally, have a green card, have employment, etc. Accordingly, they have nothing to report about a person’s citizenship or immigration status.

The city commission decides upon social policies for its residents and oversees community policing—law enforcement officials decide how to enforce the city’s policies and ordinances. Neither is, at present, under the command of the President or the Congress to enforce federal immigration and deportation matters.


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 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #200, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  6 Responses to “Guest Column: On Sanctuary Cities”

  1. You dare go against our President? Good luck with that fool.

  2. Key West isn’t Joe Arpaio’s fascist state. The question, “Where are your papers?”, should never be spoken in a free and democratic society. The uneducated and fearful are shredding our constitution in the name of false security, just as they did ninety years ago in Germany. Here we go again.

  3. I wonder if bozewell realizes he called the President(elect) a fool. Education will reveal itself.

    Few understand this concept – it is not the job of local law agencies to enforce federal laws.

  4. Sheldon Davidson may have his head in the clouds, but his feet are not on the ground. To most Americans the issue is very simple. We are a nation of laws. Illegal immigrants are here because they crossed into our country without visas. They purposely broke our laws to get here. Because of past administrations inaction in applying the laws, the problem has grown bigger and now there is a sizable number of Americans who would rather forget that we have these laws and would defy federal authorities to uphold those laws.

    His reasoning is splitting hairs and is offensive. Allow our laws to work to solve the problem. Stop calling them undocumented workers. They are illegal aliens.

    • Most of the time, they are undocumented workers, especially those who did work most “Americans” considered beneath them – and still do, despite protesting while sitting in their recliners and collecting unemployment or disability checks.

    • Dear Stock Islander,

      Trump has done it–without legal authority on which to rely, he has decreed that sanctuary cities and counties around the country are in violation of Federal law by not aggressively stopping alleged aliens and asking them about their immigration status—“Where are your papers?” And if not legally in the country not holding them until ICE gets a court order allowing them to seize the alleged offender. The penalty–loss of federal funds or grants to police departments, which grants have nothing to do with immigration or deportation matters.

      The problem is that Federal officials must rely on local police to help enforce federal immigration laws, but the law doesn’t require local authorities to detain illegal immigrants just because their federal counterparts make a request. In fact, federal courts across the country have found complying with the requests is voluntary.

      The Washington Post explained how the deportations process usually works:

      A city police officer pulls over an immigrant and arrests him for something unrelated to his citizenship (such as drunken driving or disorderly conduct).

      Whether the city or county has a sanctuary policy …here’s what happens:

      … The arrestee (“he” throughout this example) is booked into the local county jail, which is usually run by the county sheriff’s department.

      At the jail, his fingerprints are taken and sent to the FBI, which sends the inmates’ information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. U.S. law requires this information sharing between local and federal law enforcement agencies.

      If ICE finds that the inmate is undocumented, it submits a detainer request to the county jail. ICE typically asks jails to hold inmates an extra 48 hours after they are released so they can get a warrant to begin deportation proceedings.

      The Department of Homeland Security has said that complying with these requests is voluntary because keeping someone in jail without a warrant violates the 4th Amendment. So, what happens next depends on county policy.

      If the county typically complies with ICE requests, the inmate would stay in jail while ICE works to obtain an administrative deportation warrant.

      If the jail is in a county with a policy of frequently declining these requests, the inmate is released once his drunk driving or disorderly conduct charges are dropped or bail is met.

      A Department of Justice inspector general report found that some jails will only comply with a detainer request when the inmate has prior felony convictions, gang membership or is on a terrorist watch list. Others reject every detainer request.

      If ICE obtains the warrant, they could pick up the inmate and transfer him to a federal prison. Or, the inmate could stay in county jail while he undergoes deportation proceedings. If so, the jail can request money from the Department of Justice to recoup part of the cost of housing him. Note: Deportation proceedings are civil proceedings–so the detainee is not entitles to a court appointed lawyer.
      Eventually, the inmate could be deported.

      Under the Constitution, federal authorities cannot force state officials to do the feds’ work. That has been at the heart of challenges to the Medicaid provisions in Obamacare and other federal statutes that place conditions on money (e.g., expand Medicaid, raise the drunk driving age) going to the states.

      In the context of Obamacare, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear that “our cases have recognized limits on Congress’s power under the Spending Clause to secure state compliance with federal objectives. . . . Respecting this limitation is critical to ensuring that Spending Clause legislation does not undermine the status of the States as independent sovereigns in our federal system.” The court therefore will strike down legislation that in essence “commandeers a State’s legislative or administrative apparatus for federal purposes.”

      He continued, “Congress may use its spending power to create incentives for States to act in accordance with federal policies. But when ‘pressure turns into compulsion,’ the legislation runs contrary to our system of federalism.” Surely, threatening to take away all federal support for a city that doesn’t send cops out on the streets looking for suspected illegal immigrants to round up for ICE would be unconstitutional.

      It appears that most anti-immigrant advocates mislead by saying cities are giving “sanctuary” to illegal immigrants; they are, in fact, complaining about the degree to which local law enforcement can be pressed into doing ICE’s work, including the use of local jails to house illegal immigrants until they can be processed through the system.

      There is an irony here that Republicans who insist on federalism when it comes to a whole array of issues (e.g., environment, schools) now want the states to be agents of the federal government when it comes to illegal immigrants.

      Next time, you have an insult such as I have my head in the clouds—sign your name!

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