(CNSNews.com) – Cities where the local authorities do not enforce U.S. immigration laws should not be branded as sanctuary cities because the federal government still has the ability to enforce the immigration laws there, says Topeka, Kan., Chief of Police Ronald Miller.
“There are no sanctuary cities in the United States, because federal immigration laws can be enforced in all of those cities,” said Miller. He spoke with CNSNews.com after a press conference to release a report by The Police Foundation critical of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ACCESS program that trains and deputizes local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
“I think the report would reflect that sanctuary city is a designation designed to stir emotion,” Miller said.
Miller said that Topeka is not participating in ICE’s 287 (g) program and that the city council has rejected using the federal government's E-verify system to check the immigration status of potential employees, but he does not consider his community a sanctuary city.
“There is no city in America where the federal government cannot enforce immigration law,” Miller said. “So where is there a sanctuary?”
“There isn’t one,” Miller said. “It’s just a term of art that’s been used to stir the debate.”
The 240-page report, done in partnership with the Ford Foundation, is based on information gathered through focus groups around the country of law enforcement personnel, public officials, community members and members of immigrant communities.
The consensus of the focus groups, and a survey done of law enforcement officials, found that ICE’s 287 (g) program “undermines (local law enforcement’s) core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases exposure to liability and litigation and exacerbates fear in our communities.”
“In the report when we say that 287 (g) costs may outweigh the benefits, remember that immigration is an amalgam of civil and criminal,” Hubert Williams, president of The Police Foundation, a nonprofit policing advocacy group, said at the conference.
“What these police chiefs are saying is that when the 287 (g) can target the criminal element in their community, that 287 (g) is a good thing and an asset because what they want to do is get criminals out of the community,” he added.
“When you take police chiefs and put them in the position where they have got to go and enforce civil law – we want to check your green card – that undermines public trust so bad that they can’t do their job of enforcing the criminal law,” Williams said.
“That’s what we mean when we make the point that the 287 G costs outweigh 287 G benefits,” Williams said. “We’re not saying 287 G is a terrible program, we don’t want it. We’re saying, look, this program has some aspects that are useful as it relates to our duties and responsibilities to enforce the criminal law.”
Some of the recommendations made in the report include:
n Police officers should be prohibited from arresting and detaining persons to solely investigate immigration status in the absence of probable cause of an independent state criminal law violation.
n If a local agency nevertheless enters the 287 (G) program, its participation should be focused on serious criminal offenders and should be limited to verifying the immigration status of criminal detainees as part of the 287 (g) Jail Enforcement Officer program.
n Local law enforcement leaders and policing organizations should place pressure on the federal government to comprehensively improve border security and reform the immigration system, because the federal government’s failure on both issues has had serious consequences in cities and towns throughout the country.