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Karl A. Racine
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

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Attorneys General Release ‘Setting the Record Straight on Local Involvement in Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement’

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Report Debunks Trump Administration Claims Against So-Called “Sanctuary” Jurisdictions

Rob Marus, Communications Director: (202) 724-5646; [email protected]
Marrisa Geller, Public Affairs Specialist: (202) 724-5448; [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine and his counterparts from five states released a new report debunking the Trump Administration’s legal and public safety claims against cities and towns that choose to limit their participation in the most aggressive forms of federal immigration enforcement. As the joint report details, such localities are lawfully permitted to decline most forms of participation. Further, crime statistics and testimonials from law enforcement officials across the country illustrate that such policies often enhance public safety in these jurisdictions.

Both conclusions stand in stark contrast to the repeated and unsubstantiated claims made by the Trump Administration against these localities.

Setting the Record Straight on Local Involvement in Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement: The Facts and The Laws” was authored by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in consultation with the Attorneys General of the District of Columbia, California, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington state. It responds to the Trump Administration’s threats of funding cuts, as well as its inaccurate statements regarding the involvement of state and local law enforcement agencies (“LEAs”) in federal civil immigration enforcement.

“In the District of Columbia, our policies with regard to federal immigration enforcement are both just and legal,” Attorney General Racine said. “We value the immeasurable contributions of our immigrant communities and the trust that these communities have built with the Metropolitan Police Department and other agencies thanks, in part, to our policies. We will not be intimidated into compromising public safety by compromising our stance as a result of President Trump’s radical, anti-immigrant policies.”

The report brings together extensive crime data, legal analysis, and testimony from law enforcement officials from around the country to address key issues, such as:

  • Why LEAs that elect to limit their involvement in civil immigration enforcement are acting lawfully and – in fact – potentially shielding their jurisdictions from legal liability.
  • How lawfully limiting LEA involvement in federal civil immigration functions often enhances public safety.
  • Why the ICE detainer reports issued to date were both flawed and inaccurate.

The District and Other Jurisdictions Are Acting Lawfully
As detailed in today’s report, LEAs that detain an individual pursuant only to a federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer request (rather than a judicial warrant) risk violating the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as similar provisions in state constitutions – exposing those local governments to significant financial liability. As a result, the Trump Administration’s threats against sanctuary jurisdictions force these state and local LEAs into an impossible position: continue their sanctuary policies and risk the loss of federal funds, or comply with all ICE detainer requests and risk costly judgments in civil suits.

The District’s and Other Jurisdictions’ Policies Promote Public Safety
The report also details how state and local governments and law enforcement that are closest to the communities they serve are best suited to assess the needs of those communities, including how best to use their limited resources to ensure public safety. As the report details, a recent study showed that counties that limited LEA participation in civil immigration enforcement had lower crime rates and stronger economies than comparable counties.

As numerous law enforcement experts have noted, public safety depends upon building and preserving trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. That’s why many experienced sheriffs and police officers have repeatedly highlighted the fact that LEA involvement with federal immigration enforcement drives immigrants behind closed doors – decreasing the likelihood that crimes will be reported, trials will go forward, and criminals will be prosecuted.

The Federal Government’s Reports Supporting Trump Policies Contain Significant Inaccuracies
In March 2017, ICE began issuing “Declined Detainer Outcome Reports” as part of the federal government’s efforts to pressure localities into complying with ICE detainer requests. ICE published three reports before they were temporarily suspended due to numerous inaccuracies reported by law enforcement across the United States.

Today’s report details the significant inaccuracies and incomplete and misleading information included in these ICE detainer reports, including multiple errors in the data itself.

Specifically, today’s report points out that fewer than 15 percent of detainers targeted immigrants who were convicted of serious crimes, undermining the federal administration’s argument that LEAs endanger public safety when they refuse to spend scare resources to detain each individual named in an ICE detainer request.

The report is available here.