City of Portland and Multnomah County leaders remained defiant after threats from the Trump administration to punish sanctuary cities by withholding or pulling Department of Justice grants.
City and county officials say they currently receive $5.5 million from that department.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a press conference today announced plans to punish jurisdictions that defy U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requests, but it's not clear he actually has the legal authority to do so.
"The Department of Justice has long required local jurisdictions to comply with 'all applicable laws,' including 8 USC 1373 as a condition of DOJ grant funding," says Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury in a statement, referring to the federal code requiring local jurisdictions to share information with federal immigration enforcement.
"We have no policies that violate the code. Bottom line: in Multnomah County, we follow federal and state laws. So we do not expect to lose any of the $2.5 million in federal money that either comes directly to us or passes through the state or city."
In his statement, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler criticized the attorney general's statements as threatening but also vague.
"Also unclear is his legal ability to withhold funds DOJ funds from states under these conditions," says Wheeler. "It should be noted that DOJ grants to the City of Portland in our 2015-16 budget totaled just more than $3 million" — a small fraction of the city's overall budget.
Wheeler also took aim at the Oregon's Republican Party for adding to the hateful rhetoric.
"All of this is happening in an environment that contains a lot of heated rhetoric but not a lot of facts," Wheeler says in the statement. "For example, just last week an Oregon Republican Party spokesman said that Portland's status as a sanctuary city means we are harboring, 'criminal illegal aliens who are murdering and raping.' This statement is inaccurate and harmful."
State law prevents any jurisdictions from spending public dollars for the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and both the city and the county have symbolically reiterated their support for remaining sanctuary jurisdictions.
Most critically, county law enforcement agencies across the state have barred their officers from following ICE's request to hold immigrants who are in jail for longer than the local enforcement otherwise would. A 2014 federal court ruling found that doing so was unconstitutional.
Statement from Chair Kafoury on Jeff Sessions’ remarks on sanctuaries and arrest of Dreamer Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez
“The Attorney General today said the Department of Justice will withhold and potentially claw back federal Department of Justice grant funding from jurisdictions in violation of certain federal immigration laws such as 8 U.S.C. 1373.
“The Department of Justice has long required local jurisdictions to comply with ‘all applicable laws,’ including 8 USC 1373 as a condition of DOJ grant funding.We have no policies that violate the code.
“Bottom line: in Multnomah County, we follow federal and state laws. So we do not expect to lose any of the $2.5 million in federal money that either comes directly to us or passes through the state or city.
“Note: Of the $2.5 million we receive, we then pass through $520,970 to our community providers to perform the program objectives. Department totals are as follows:
District Attorney’s Office = $588,816
Department of County Human Services= $913,356
Department of Community Justice= $665,457
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office= $325,896
Health Department = $8,636
“Separately Sessions has urged state and local jurisdictions to comply with federal immigration detainers. We have never seen a grant specify such a thing. If that was a condition, that would be subject to litigation because they would be saying, ‘We need you to violate this person’s constitutional rights as a condition of getting federal grant money.’
“Current law does not require states to assist federal immigration authorities. That is because the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from commandeering state resources and personnel to carry out federal policy objectives. Oregon’s 1987 statute complies with current federal law. We follow state law.
“If the Trump Administration wants to condition grant funding on nebulous criteria it hasn’t explained, we would expect it to be challenged in court.
“This feels like a distraction to the real and serious issues we need to be working on.”
Statement on weekend arrest of Dreamer Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez
“The arrest of Dreamer Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez in East County over the weekend will not make our community safer. This is what it looks like when politics gets in the way of common sense.
“It is inconceivable to me that the Trump administration is using our government’s precious resources to arrest a community leader, a taxpayer, for something his parents did when he was 5 years old. Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez is a valued member of the Reynolds school community, his Episcopal church and a beloved soccer coach. He was taking the steps required to become a citizen.
“He is not a threat. He is not dangerous. He is a coach, a mentor and an inspiration to children. Politics should not deny him his day in court.
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement managers in the Portland district have discretion and I am asking them to use it. Release him from Tacoma so that he can he resume his legal path to citizenship.”
Mayor Wheeler’s Statement on AG’s Comments and Recent ICE Actions in Portland
PORTLAND, OR – Mayor Ted Wheeler released the following statement on Attorney General Jeff Session’s comments on sanctuary city’s and recent ICE actions in Portland.
“Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions again reiterated the Trump administration’s threat to withhold funding from sanctuary cities. His comments provide barely more information than the already broad statements provided by the president himself. It is unclear whether the AG is referring to future grants, or to funds already provided. Also unclear is his legal ability to withhold funds DOJ funds from states under these conditions. It should be noted that DOJ grants to the City of Portland in our 2015-16 budget totaled just more than $3 million.
“All of this is happening in an environment that contains a lot of heated rhetoric but not a lot of facts. For example, just last week an Oregon Republican Party spokesman said that Portland’s status as a sanctuary city means we are harboring, “criminal illegal aliens who are murdering and raping.” This statement is inaccurate and harmful.
“An ICE arrest in Portland over the weekend demonstrates how wrongheaded this statement truly is. This weekend, ICE arrested Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, a 25-year-old who has lived in the United States since he was five. Far from being a violent criminal, Francisco is a respected member of the community, a student and a volunteer. This arrest does nothing to promote public safety. Instead, actions like this only serve to tear apart our community and needlessly alter the lives of our residents. The city had no role in this arrest and I am against it.
“Today my administration spoke with both ICE and DOJ about our concern that their actions tremendous damage they are doing to the social, civic, and economic life of our city. The City of Portland, our police bureau, and our employees do not cooperate with ICE. However, ICE has the power to operate within our city, and does not have to inform us of their activities. To learn more about your rights regarding ICE and immigration enforcement, please visit Oregon Immigration Resource here: http://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=deportations-and-ice-activity.”