Trump's 'sanctuary city' order splits red and blue states

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2017 7:28 PM
Trump's 'sanctuary city' order splits red and blue states

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Donald Trump's promised crackdown on "sanctuary cities" has revealed the deep divide on immigration in liberal and conservative states, with some moving to follow his order and others breaking with the U.S. government to protect immigrants in the country illegally.

In Texas, Republican lawmakers pushed to deny money to cities with the policies on Thursday as demonstrators disrupted a hearing several times. Another U.S.-Mexico border state, California, is moving in the opposite direction by advancing a statewide sanctuary that would prohibit law enforcement in the nation's most populated state from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Trump's recent executive orders threatening to withhold federal funding from communities with sanctuary policies and calling for a border wall have produced widespread protests and fears that more immigration restrictions are in the future. The president's supporters have hailed the efforts.

Cities have mostly taken up sanctuary laws. There's no official definition, but often they tell police not to inquire about the immigration status of those they arrest or they decline requests from immigration officials to keep defendants in custody while they await deportation.

Phoenix leaders will consider a petition next month to adopt the policies.

On the state level, California would not be the first to block police from enforcing federal immigration law. Oregon pioneered statewide sanctuary in 1987, when immigrant workers and their families were sometimes housed in appalling conditions despite their importance to agricultural profits.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she will enforce the law that prohibits police from detaining people who are in the U.S. illegally but have not broken other laws. She ordered all state agencies, not just law enforcement, on Thursday to follow the policy.

"They mow our lawns. They pick our grapes," Brown said last week. "They take care of our children and they take care of our seniors, and I want to make sure they feel welcome in Oregon."

Advocates say the laws ensure people in the country illegally will come forward to report crimes without fear of deportation. Opponents cite concerns about crime, including the shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco. Charged was a man in the country illegally after multiple deportations to his native Mexico.

California senators advanced legislation Tuesday that would provide money for lawyers for immigrants facing deportation and hamper any attempt to create a Muslim registry. The state is home to an estimated 2.3 million immigrants in the country illegally.

"We want to make sure that police officers don't abandon their beat and go enforce immigration laws," said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles.

Some California Republicans fought back. State Sen. Jeff Stone voted against the measure, saying, "I think this bill is making it that much more difficult for the federal authorities to get the most dangerous criminals that we want to deport to keep our communities safe."

Three states away, Texas' Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said the Trump administration is showing the potential to secure the border. Besides denying taxpayer money to cities that don't detain immigrants, he wants to remove locally elected officials if they don't comply.

Individual sheriffs and police chiefs have long opposed enforcing federal immigration law.

"You don't get to decide which laws you like, which laws you will honor," A.J. Louderback, president of the Sheriff's Association of Texas, told state senators Thursday.

Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who runs the jails in the liberal enclave of Austin, says she will only comply with federal immigration requests to detain suspects accused of murder, aggravated sexual assault and human trafficking. Abbott then blocked $1.5 million in criminal justice grants.

Idaho also is moving to enforce Trump's order, though the state has no sanctuary cities. A bill announced this week would hold back taxpayer money.

The actions emerged in a different political climate from when Oregon instituted its statewide protections. The governor's office said Oregon has not faced any federal reprisals over the years but that it could change.

Brown said she would fight for Oregon's law, including taking legal action, if Washington tries to withhold federal funding as leverage.

It allows immigrants to go to police when they are a victim or witness to a crime without fearing deportation, said Jann Carson, associate director of the ACLU of Oregon.

"The biggest result is that Oregon police have not participated in INS, now ICE, raids on migrant farms, apartment buildings, roadblocks," Carson said.

Carson said immigrants here illegally can't receive welfare benefits but that many pay taxes. The Social Security Administration estimated immigrants and their employers paid $13 billion in payroll taxes in 2010.

Former lawmaker Dick Springer helped pass Oregon's measure 30 years ago. He said it was driven by unsanitary and crowded living conditions for migrant workers and the agriculture industry's dependence on those workers.

"We were aware of really atrocious conditions for farmworkers ... 50 people would be living in a barn," Springer said Tuesday.

The 1987 measure received bipartisan support. Asked if it makes Oregon a sanctuary state, Springer said that was his intent.

"We're not going to hassle people that want to make a living and are contributing to our economy," he said, choking up with emotion. "Those are the families we cherish, embrace and welcome."

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Associated Press reporters Jonathan J. Cooper in Sacramento, California; Kimberlee Kruesi in Boise, Idaho; and Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

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Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky

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This story has been corrected to show that California is the most populated state, not the largest.