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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