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October 20, 2015

King Statement on Sanctuary Cities Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today released the following statement after opposing the advancement of a bill that would place burdensome requirements on local law enforcement as they work to safeguard communities:

            “State and local police departments know how to best protect and keep safe the communities they serve. The federal government should be a partner when it comes to that – not another obstacle.

“I agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system, but that’s not what this bill does. Instead, this bill would wrest away local control by dictating how law enforcement should interact with communities, slam cities with unfunded federal mandates by forcing them to foot the bill to detain people – a Constitutionally questionable practice anyway, and undermine safety by revoking critical state and police grants if local law enforcement decides to pursue a different course it believes is better suited to local conditions.

“Rather than punishing local police and straining local budgets, the federal government should be working to find better ways to empower and work collaboratively with them to tackle the problem of illegal immigration – and taking up comprehensive immigration reform would be a good place to start.”

Today, Senator King opposed a procedural motion to advance legislation that broadly defines “sanctuary jurisdictions” as any jurisdiction that fails to comply with a federal immigration detainer or request to notify. However, the more than 300 jurisdictions in the U.S. that would be impacted – none of which are in Maine – have chosen their law enforcement approaches for various reasons such as building better relationships between law enforcement and the communities in which they serve, focusing limited resources on the most serious criminals, or limiting potential legal liability due to constitutional concerns associated with immigration detainers.

The legislation rejected by the Senate today would have forced local law enforcement to hold people indefinitely without a warrant or probable cause, raising constitutional questions and it would have also forced local communities to bear the costs of the detention. Additionally, if the community did not comply with the request, it would have been prohibited state and local law enforcement from receiving critical grant funding that they rely on for salaries, training, safety, and support services for victims.

The bill is opposed by the Department of Homeland Security, the National League of Cities, the National Fraternal Order of the Police, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, among other organizations.

In 2013, Senator King voted in support of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.


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