Before LR city board: Cooperating with feds on illegal immigration UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Before LR city board: Cooperating with feds on illegal immigration UPDATE

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HELPING HAND: The Little Rock ID card was developed to help immigrants navigate life here.
  • HELPING HAND: The Little Rock ID card was developed to help immigrants navigate life here.

Also noted on the Little Rock City Board agenda: A resolution pledging cooperation with the federal government to "stem illegal immigration." UPDATE: It appears to be a protective measure against a suspicious legislature.

To wit:

WHEREAS, the City of Little Rock, Arkansas (“the City”), has complied with Federal Requirements to obtain Federal Grant Monies pursuant to 8 USC § 1373; and,

WHEREAS, the requirements only ask that the City cooperate with Federal Law Enforcement Officials in appropriate cases that address issues of illegal immigration; and,

WHEREAS, it is important for the City to declare its intentions always to comply with State and Federal Statutory and Constitutional Requirements.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS:

Section 1. The City will not engage in any program or activity which would require a failure to cooperate to the extent provided by law with any appropriate Federal Agency that needs to obtain information about citizenship or immigration status of a person in the custody of the City.

Section 2. The City will not engage in any program or activity which violates an individual’s statutory or constitutional rights in order to cooperate with any appropriate Federal Agency that needs to obtain information about citizenship or immigration status of a person in the custody of the City

Little Rock has generally been friendly toward its significant immigrant population (any number of whom, all acknowledge, are not legal residents). The police have not actively enforced immigration laws (leaving it to federal agencies) believing that doing so discourages reports of crime and cooperating in solving them. The city also has an ID card program aimed at smoothing daily living for immigrants.

The resolution includes no explanatory note on its introduction, apart from the reference to the need to comply with the federal law cited. That law requires the sharing of immigration status, if requested. I have some questions out on whether this signals any change in existing city posture.

The federal law was passed at Donald Trump's urging to stop "sanctuary cities." A fact sheet from the Immigration Resource Legal Center emphasizes to local governments that the law does not REQUIRE certain actions, such as asking someone about immigration status or complying with ICE detainers.



This resolution may only be to take care that Little Rock remains in compliance with the law to the extent required, if not necessarily to the extent desired by Trump.  Elsewhere in Arkansas, some local sheriffs have volunteered to participate in a program in which local officers make immigration and customs arrests. We've written about the concerns in the immigrant community about enforcement in the Trump era.

PS: I’ve been told this is a proposal by Director Lance Hines. I’ve asked him what’s intended. Apparently it was mentioned briefly at a recent board meeting. Hines apparently said something to the effect that it was a way to avoid some unspecified action by legislature. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. was quoted as saying, wisely, that it looked like a solution looking for a problem. I’m with the mayor. Let us wait to see what problem the legislature creates, or proposes to create, before acting blindly.

UPDATE: Director Hines responded to e-mailed questions Monday. He said:

The resolution is a reflection of what we are already doing internally not only to have kept DOJ public safety fund grants we received but, going forward we must already be doing this to qualify for any new DOJ Public safety grants.

I also believe that much of the AR legislature already believes Little Rock is a “sanctuary city” which is not the case but we as the policy making body of the city should recognize more publicly what we are already doing in order to keep the legislature from pre-emoting us. This only applies to criminal illegal aliens in City custody. Much of the immigrant community does not want Little Rock to be a “sanctuary city”. In communities where this has happened that community is less safe because local officials continue to release criminal aliens back into the community that would otherwise be deported and removed from the communities they threaten.

I believe if we don’t act that the legislature will require us to do more than what federal law requires as a minimum to be in compliance. ie-take away our ability to have the id program we started earlier this year.
I commented to Hines that I had some doubts about the legislature's ability to dictate law enforcement practices, but acknowledged that this wouldn't necessarily discourage them. He responded:

I agree but all of our ability to govern is specifically given to us the Ark constitution through the legislature and they can and will remove our ability to do certain things. Look at Sen Hester trying to restrict our ability to have building codes and certain restriction. It’s all about self rule and local control. Less government closer to the people = more freedom. 

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