It’s a landmark ruling out of Miami, Florida that was handed down from a federal district judge.
Cooperate with ICE… or you’re out of a job.
There was a new Florida state law that put a ban on sanctuary cities. It also ordered law enforcement officers to continue full cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Miami U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom upheld a majority of the components of that law on Monday, just one day before SB 168 went into effect.
On top of banning sanctuary cities in Florida, it also creates a new mandate. It requires police departments to hold inmates for an additional 48 hours to give ICE enough time to take custody of them.
There was only one part of the new law that Bloom shot down.
It was a piece of the law which required officers to transport illegal aliens across state lines if requested to do so by federal agencies. According to Bloom, that’s the federal government’s responsibility.
Back in June, SB 168 was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Although it formally went into effect in July, it wasn’t set to be enforced until Tuesday.
And there’s good incentive for elected officials to comply with the law. If they don’t, they could be removed from office by the governor or state attorney general.
“Congress gave a clear indication that it sought to facilitate, not preempt, the type of cooperation that SB 168 mandates,” Bloom wrote in the order.
The mayor of South Miami, Philip Stoddard, was one of the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction of the law.
He’s clearly in panic mode, saying he was “baffled” by Bloom’s ruling.
“It’s ridiculous,” Stoddard declared. “It’s putting immigration enforcement above public safety.”
Clearly he doesn’t understand that public safety is actually tied to enforcing the law. It seems he’s now fearing for his job.
“This means if ICE tells you to drop everything, patrol, protection of schools, criminal investigations, you have to go play Cowboys and Indians with ICE,” he claimed. “Local law enforcement is secondary to immigration enforcement.”
Back in June, immigrant advocacy groups and the City of South Miami filed the lawsuit against DeSantis and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
There were a number of opponents of the new legislation. Many argued that some of the wording was too vague to enforce. One such area was the requirement that officers make their “best efforts” to assist ICE.
“The governor’s political enemies may interpret ‘best efforts’ differently,” Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Paul Chavez said last week.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has come under fire recently as been an extremely far left political organization that labels conservative groups it doesn’t like as all being “racist”.
“If I fail to abide by the provisions of this law, some of which are comprehensively vague, the governor may remove me from office,” Stoddard added.
In her order, Bloom specifically addressed those issues.
“The Court believes ‘best efforts’ to be sufficiently clear as to what conduct is or is not required for a facial pre-enforcement vagueness challenge,” the federal judge wrote.
In another sign that there may be hope after all, we can look at what happened in Fairfax County, Virginia last week.
A cop there had the “nerve and the audacity” to notify ICE that he had detained a subject that they had a warrant out on, and was subsequently suspended.
But on Thursday, after a massive public outcry about punishing the officer for upholding the law, the Fairfax County lawman has been allowed back to work.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. released a statement following the announcement of the decision to return his officer to the streets.
“We have one of the best police forces in the U.S. and I have confidence that our officer will represent us well throughout his career,” the chief said on Thursday.
As reported by the Washington Times, Chief Roessler Jr. said Tuesday he suspended an officer who cooperated with federal deportation officers by turning over an undocumented immigrant he encountered during a traffic stop — a move the chief said violated department policy.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 3, 2019
Chief Roessler didn’t identify the officer but said he “deprived a person of their freedom” by cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The chief called his actions unacceptable.
“Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE,” he said in a statement. “This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents.”
But cries from the public proclaimed that the officer was not acting as an immigration agent. He was merely extending a professional courtesy. He was doing his job.
He had some harsh words for the police chief who made the call. https://t.co/xax9uuHG4F
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) October 2, 2019
The subject lost their “right to freedom” when they violated multiple laws.
For Roessler to claim that this officer was wrong for detaining a subject that was breaking the law is ludicrous. Had he stopped a suspect who was driving without a license, had a warrant for failure to appear in Stafford County and called Stafford to come pick him up, would he still be suspended?
Of course not. Because that is his job. It is the chief’s job. And he failed to do what he was hired to do.
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The chief said the officer was working a traffic accident in the Huntington section of the Virginia county on Sept. 21 and came across someone without a driver’s license. When the officer ran the name, it returned a flag from ICE, which said the immigrant was a fugitive after failing to appear for a deportation hearing.
The county’s system confirmed the warrant. The officer called, and an ICE employee responded.
Chief Roesslersaid the county officer should not have detained the immigrant to turn over to ICE. He said that move broke department policy, which tells officers not to bother to confirm administrative warrants through the county’s system. The majority of administrative warrants are from ICE.
“The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation,” the chief said.
Luis Aguilar, director of CASA Virginia, a leading advocacy group for immigrants, said Chief Roessler’s decision to suspend an officer was bold — but correct.
“We think it’s a very appropriate action,” Mr. Aguilar told The Washington Times. “This is local law enforcement, this is the local police department, and they cannot be enforcing federal immigration laws. … This is a clear message of where and how the chief of police thinks.”
ICE did not respond to a request for comment, but the agency’s acting director last week used a press conference at the White House to complain about communities that refused to cooperate with his deportation officers.
Matthew T. Albence, the acting director of ICE, said police departments routinely cooperate with other departments on warrants and detention requests and there is no reason they should treat ICE differently.
“I guarantee you, I can go into Fairfax County [court] today and there will probably be sheriffs from Loudoun County, sheriffs from Prince William County, maybe a couple of Marshals guys that are there waiting for somebody,” he said. “It’s a common occurrence in law enforcement. The only reason it’s being made controversial is because politicians are looking to exploit it.”
Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said Fairfax County’s police department is getting the law enforcement equation backward.
“The police chief is ordering an investigation of an officer who did exactly the right thing by responding to an active ICE warrant on an illegal alien who was a fugitive,” she said. “It’s astonishing that a police chief is more intent on punishing his officer than seeing to it that legitimate laws are enforced.”
She disputed the police department’s suggestion that the county officer was acting as an agent of ICE.
She said that is no more true than if he had held someone for a warrant issued by neighboring Montgomery County in Maryland.
She said Fairfax police intended to shame the officer.
Chief Roesslersaid the suspect in question was picked up by ICE and was processed and released with an ankle bracelet pending the outcome of deportation proceedings.
Aguilar said it’s likely the suspect will be deported and the police officer will be responsible.
“We don’t even know about the family itself, who’s going to be separated. We don’t know if there’s kids involved,” he said.
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