Concluding a nearly two-hour April 24 meeting with top immigration leadership from the Department of Homeland Security, Conference Vice President and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussed the need to find consistency and clarity around key issues among DHS, the Justice Department, and the White House. On those issues, he summarized that the mayors and police chiefs who participated in the meeting had learned that:

  • The definition of a sanctuary city is willful non-compliance with 8 U.S. Code § 1373, of the Immigration and Nationalities Act. DHS officials at the meeting acknowledged that very few jurisdictions are out of compliance with that provision. 1373 prohibits local and state governments from enacting laws or policies that limit communication with DHS about information regarding the “immigration or citizenship status” of individuals and prohibits restrictions on maintaining such information.
  • DHS believes that it has satisfied the requirement that there be a warrant and finding of probable cause to respond affirmatively to an ICE detainer which requests that a criminal alien about to be released from a state or local jail through the policy it announced on April 2. There is a difference of opinion here, however: The mayors and police chiefs stressed that their lawyers have told them and the courts have found that the warrant and finding of probable cause must be issued by a judge or magistrate or a jurisdiction may be held liable for holding an individual. The ICE policy allows ICE officers to issue warrants and probable cause findings, and ICE and DHS officials believe that is sufficient under the Fourth Amendment.
  • DHS officials confirmed that participation in the 287(g) program, which allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter a partnership with ICE to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions, is voluntary, not mandatory. They were clear that refusal to participate in the programs does not trigger sanctuary city status.

Participating in the meeting in person in addition to Landrieu were Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, USCM Past President; Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Chair, Criminal and Social Justice Committee; Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Austin, Member, USCM Advisory Board Member; Conference CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran; and Montgomery County, MD, Police Chief Tom Manger, President of Major Cities Chiefs Association. On the phone were Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Co-chair, Immigration Reform Task Force Co-chair; Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force Chair; Camden, NJ Police Chief Scott Thomson, Police Executive Research Association President, and Los Angeles’s First Assistant Police Chief Michel Moore.

DHS officials at the meeting included Tom Homan, Acting Director of ICE; Tim Robbins, ICE Chief of Staff; Gene Hamilton, Senior Counselor to the Secretary; and Alaina Clark, Acting Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement.