U.S. Mayors, Police Chiefs Concerned with Sanctuary Cities Executive Order

Washington, D.C. – The following joint statement was issued today by U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO & Executive Director Tom Cochran and Major Cities Chiefs Association President and Montgomery County, MD Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger regarding President Trump’s Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States:

“Mayors and police chiefs are committed to ensuring that criminals, regardless of their immigration status, are arrested and properly adjudicated by the criminal justice system. Our police departments regularly work in cooperation with federal authorities in a variety of enforcement activities.

“Both Mayors and Chiefs of Police have taken a solemn oath to uphold the law and defend the Constitution. True to our oath, we have questions and concerns about the measures announced today. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that denying federal funds to cities to coerce compliance with federal policies may be unconstitutional. Federal courts have likewise held that the ICE detainers referenced today do not provide sufficient legal justification for detention, arrest, and incarceration by local officers. We call upon the Attorney General to meet with mayors and police chiefs for a constructive legal dialog.

“Cities that aim to build trusting and supportive relations with immigrant communities should not be punished because this is essential to reducing crime and helping victims, both stated goals of the new Administration in Washington. We must be able to continue to protect the safety of all of our residents while ensuring that local law enforcement is focused on community policing.

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Major Cities Chiefs Association have, therefore, come together to register our strong reservations with provisions to withhold federal funds in the Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, issued today.

“That order does not provide a clear definition of what constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction. Instead, it gives undefined discretion to the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate sanctuary jurisdictions and the Attorney General to take action against them. We call upon the Secretary of Homeland Security to document and promulgate a lawful definition before further actions are taken, so the cities across the Nation may determine how to proceed.

“While the Executive Order initially defines a sanctuary jurisdiction as one that willfully does not comply with §1373 (a federal law which prohibits local and state governments from enacting laws or policies that limit communication regarding an individual’s immigration status with the Department of Homeland Security), it also describes a sanctuary jurisdiction as one that has in effect a statute, policy or practice that prevents or hinders enforcement of federal law – a definition open to broad interpretation. While the provisions of § 1373 have been enacted by Congress, the latter description has not.

“Local police departments work hard to build and preserve trust with all of the communities they serve, including immigrant communities. Immigrants residing in our cities must be able to trust the police and all of city government.

“We look forward to bringing mayors and police chiefs together with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to discuss these issues and develop an approach to immigration enforcement that does not interfere with strong police-community relations or place inappropriate burdens on local police officers, and upholds our nation’s immigration laws.”

About the Author:

Elena Temple is the Director of Public Affairs for the Conference. She can be contacted by phone at 202-286-1100 or via email at etemple@usmayors.org.