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City Council Wants ‘Sanctuary’ Policy Without the ‘Label’

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AP File Photo/Mel Evans
Iowa City, IA

A city council in central Iowa is taking steps to implement sanctuary city policies while avoiding “the label.”

Members of the Iowa City, Iowa, City Council have asked their attorney to draft a resolution that would make sure the City does not use any funds to enforce federal immigration policy. The council members requested a caveat exempting the situation where public safety might be at risk, The Gazette reported Wednesday night.

Council Member Susan Mims said, “(W)hen you start putting labels on things, particularly in this environment, I don’t think it does anybody any good to draw additional attention.”

The attention the council member apparently seeks to avoid is the potential of losing federal funding for failing to cooperate with immigration officials, as previously reported by Breitbart Texas.

City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes sent an email last week to council members outlining the concept of proposing sanctuary city policies, The Gazette article states. She explained that sanctuary cities limit cooperation with immigration authorities by not asking about the immigration status or “not allocating local resources to the enforcement of immigration law.” She said she was unaware of any state or federal law that would mandate a city use local resources to enforce federal immigration law.

Apparently the city attorney was unaware of 8 U.S.C. § 1373a law that passed in 1996 to require local and state jurisdictions to cooperate with immigration officials or risk losing federal funding.

Under this existing law, the Department of Justice (DOJ) can already move quickly to not only cut off future law enforcement grants to the city–it can recoup past grants for any period of time the municipality was not 100 percent compliant with federal immigration law, according to U.S. Representative John Culberson (R-TX).

Culberson spent most of 2016 working with DOJ officials to enforce 8 U.S.C. § 1373. “The law requires cooperation with immigration officials 100 percent of the time,” Culberson said in an interview with Breitbart Texas in November.

The law was passed in 1996 to force local and state jurisdictions to cooperate with immigration officials or risk losing federal funding. Part of the process requires the federal agency’s office of inspector general to certify that a jurisdiction is not in compliance in order to block funding.

“The days of receiving federal money while protecting illegal aliens are over,” Culberson said.

Dilkes said she would include a disclaimer that the city would follow the Sanctuary City policy as long as it’s in accordance with state and federal law.

The topic became an issue for the Iowa City Council after residents approached members requesting the Sanctuary City designation and policies, the Iowa newspaper reported. Despite numerous calls and emails from constituents, the council decided to move forward with drafting a resolution.

The resolution will include a caveat giving authorities permission to cooperate with immigration authorities in cases where public safety is a threat. However, the federal law requires 100 percent cooperation with immigration officials, Culberson stated previously.

Mayor Jim Throgmorton told the council, “We need to exercise our discretion as a matter of policy to stand for vulnerable residents, who are by the way, not violent criminals, which many people seem to associate with the sanctuary city idea.”

If the action by the Iowa City City Council passes when voted on later this month, it could put the City before new DOJ scrutiny. The DOJ has already certified 10 sanctuary jurisdictions as not being in compliance with the law. Those jurisdictions include the entire states of California and Connecticut; Orleans Parish in Louisiana;  New York City; Philadelphia; Cook County, Illinois; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Clark County, Nevada, Breitbart Texas previously reported.

“The new administration can go right to work to force these jurisdictions to comply or simply choose to stop receiving federal money,” Culberson stated in December while speaking to a group of supporters. “The DOJ can simply flip the switch.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.


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