Montgomery County is not a sanctuary jurisdiction and therefore the county shouldn’t lose out on federal funds after President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week targeting communities that don’t cooperate with federal agencies enforcing immigration laws, according to county spokesman Patrick Lacefield.
Lacefield said Thursday the county cooperates with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by providing the federal department with county arrest and detention information through the state.
“Local police do not enforce federal immigration law,” Lacefield wrote in an email. “We do not ask about an individual’s immigration status. That is ICE’s job. However, consistent with guidelines laid down last year by the Maryland Attorney General, we cooperate with ICE when they ask about specific serious offenders in our custody…”
He said ICE is notified when the county’s Department of Corrections releases an undocumented immigrant who was being held for local offenses, so ICE can detain that person if the federal department has outstanding charges against the individual.
Lacefield noted that true “sanctuary cities” such as San Francisco or Chicago do not respond to ICE inquiries about who is in their jails.
Sanctuary jurisdictions generally do not turn over information to ICE about undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status, according to The New York Times. The federal department often detains the individuals for possible deportation, according to the paper.
The executive order signed by Trump on Wednesday requires executive departments and agencies “to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”
One of those methods is ensuring that jurisdictions that do not comply with federal law “do not receive federal funds.”
Lacefield said some county residents may believe the county is a sanctuary jurisdiction because local officials have long welcomed immigrants.
“Sanctuary jurisdiction has to do with your relationship to ICE,” Lacefield said, “not with what you say.”
However, he tempered his comments by saying county officials still need more details about the executive order to ensure the county is not being defined by the federal government as a sanctuary jurisdiction for other reasons.
In November, officials including then-Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, now-Sen. Chris Van Hollen and now-Rep. Jamie Raskin hosted a rally in Silver Spring during which they denounced recent hate-based incidents in the county and reaffirmed their support for diversity and inclusion.