Society

DHS Suspends Sanctuary City Report

| by Jordan Smith

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is suspending its weekly report on the number of detainer requests denied by sanctuary cities.

President Donald Trump called for the release of weekly reports on how many Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers were decline in a January executive order, CNN reports.

However, after three weeks of publication, a DHS spokesman acknowledged several problems with the reports that had to be reviewed.

David Lapan noted that the issues "were really data processing type things," but that "this review's broader than that."

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Complaints came from jurisdictions that said they had been included in the report in error, while immigrant advocacy groups stated it was unfair to focus on criminals and ignore the good work many undocumented immigrants do in communities.

Lapan did not indicate when publication would begin again.

"There is no time frame associated with that [suspension] because it's based on a desire to make sure that we have quality data that the information that we're publishing is as accurate as we can be," Lapan said. "And so [it will take] as long as it takes to get to that level of comfort that the secretary believes what we have is as good as it can be."

The decision comes as the conflict between supporters and opponents of sanctuary cities and counties is intensifying at the state level.

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Republican State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania is sponsoring legislation that the State Senate has already passed. The legislation would block state grants to sanctuary cities and deny sovereign immunity to these jurisdictions, The Hill reports. The bill must now be discussed in the Republican-led State House, although it is expected that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would veto it if the House votes in favor.

Charles Perry, a Republican State Sen. in Texas, agrees with Reschenthaler. He is backing legislation that would halt grants for sanctuary cities.

"The only way you can get a jurisdiction's attention is if you withhold the money," Perry told The Hill. "We have several jurisdictions in Texas that, either implicit or explicit, have become sanctuary cities."

These state initiatives are in line with a policy announcement made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions about federal grants.

"The Department of Justice will require jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department grants to certify compliance" with the section of federal law requiring cooperation from cities, Sessions stated. "Failure to remedy violations could result in withholding of grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants."

Local officials oppose this approach, arguing that the federal government must enforce federal law.

"It's invading our sovereignty. It's trying to commandeer local resources to apply federal law," said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. "The federal government doesn’t have the right to commandeer, to say we’re going to conscript [Seattle Police Department] officers to enforce federal immigration laws."

Sources: CNN, The Hill / Photo credit: U.S. Department of State/Flickr

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