Takoma Park is concerned after the Trump administration issued an executive order that may punish sanctuary cities.
The City of Takoma Park considers itself to be a sanctuary city, where city officials (including police) will not identify illegal immigrants. The city has been a sanctuary city since 1985, and its sanctuary law specifically prohibits city employees from asking city residents about their citizenship and immigration status, as well as cooperating with federal laws that may lead to deportations, according to the city.
“One of the things we want to make sure is that people have the information they need and resources they need to answer their questions and to meet the challenges that are facing us,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.
This does not prevent the federal government from enforcing immigration law as it sees fit. But the cooperation of local law enforcement at the state, county and municipal level could play a vital role in the federal government’s fight against illegal immigration.
The executive order by President Donald J. Trump aims to empower local police to “perform the functions of an immigration officer,” as stated in his executive order, broadening the reach of immigration enforcement.
Former Takoma Park Police Department Chief Alan Goldberg issued a statement shortly after Election Day last year reaffirming the police department’s position on the matter, stating on a blog post on the city’s website that it has “no interest or authority in the deportation of immigrants”.
According to Council member Fred Schultz, this does not mean that when illegal immigrants break the laws, they will get a slap on the wrist, however. Police enforcement will continue as usual.
Schultz aims to clear a common misconception that schools, churches and hospitals are safe havens for immigrants but said that they’re unlikely targets for immigration agents.
“What we have heard is that the Trump administration does not want ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents to go into hospitals, places of worship and schools. We want to make sure that everyone, documented or undocumented, understand what their rights are,” said Schultz.
The city has the support of some in the state government as well, even as Gov. Larry Hogan has stated his opposition to House Bill 1362, which would make it harder for federal authorities to get immigration information from local and state law enforcement.
“From what I’ve heard, in the state delegation, they have been supportive of sanctuary cities,” said Council member Terry Seamens.