Are Clallam, Jefferson sanctuary counties? Here’s your answer

North Olympic Peninsula residents have nothing to fear from President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order that threatens sanctuary counties and cities with a loss of federal funds, officials from Clallam and Jefferson counties who received numerous calls from concerned residents said last week.

The counties, and the cities within them, have not declared themselves to be sanctuary jurisdictions, although the Center for Immigration Studies, a national group advocating less immigration, has differed with that interpretation.

“The only way we can be a sanctuary anything is if the legislative body holds a hearing or [passes a] resolution, and we’ve never even talked about it,” Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones said.

Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean said there’s no need to even go that far.

“I don’t think the county needs to declare itself that because it can be interpreted in many different ways by many different people,” she said.

Officials in both counties have received numerous calls about the executive order.

“I’d say we don’t have a formal or informal designation either way,” Clallam County commissioners Chairman Mark Ozias said Friday.

“I don’t have any fear of Clallam County losing federal aid, for that reason anyway.

“Ultimately, that would be something that would warrant further discussion and perhaps, if things continued long enough, we would look to the court system to ultimately make some determination.

“I don’t think it’s going to come to that.”

Under Trump’s order, sanctuary jurisdictions are those that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which governs “Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”

Under that law, federal, state and local government officials cannot prohibit or restrict information to and from the INS regarding a person’s citizenship or immigrant status.

In his executive order, Trump said sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible to receive non-law-enforcement grants.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United State willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” Trump says in the executive order.

“These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American People and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, which bills itself as “low immigration, pro-immigrant” at its website, www.cis.org, identified Clallam and Jefferson counties as among numerous sanctuary-jurisdiction counties in Washington state and across the U.S.

In its map, the CIS says both counties “will not honor ICE detainer.”

“All of the jurisdictions are on that list because they were identified by ICE as having a restrictive policy or because I was able to use other open sources that have reported on that particular jurisdiction having that policy,” Jessica Vaughan, CIS’s director of policy studies, said last week.

“In most cases, it’s because ICE identified them.”

Vaughan did not provide evidence of ICE’s belief that the counties’ policies are restrictive.

Calls for comment were not returned from ICE media affairs in Seattle.

But Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said he spoke with ICE staffers at the Port Angeles office who were not authorized to talk to the media.

“They said it’s ridiculous, we’re not a sanctuary county,” Benedict said.

“If we were a sanctuary county, we wouldn’t be working with them, and we do.”

Officials in both counties say they will not hold a person in jail for a civil immigration violation beyond the person’s release date absent a judge’s order or a probable cause warrant.

“It’s part of the Fourth Amendment,” Benedict said.

“Basically, an ICE detainer is a warrantless detainer of an individual,” said Michael Haas, Jefferson County prosecuting attorney.

“It subjects the county to civil liability.”

Benedict and Haas said their respective counties do comply with 8 U.S. 1373.

In addition, they said, complying with the detainer is voluntary.

The detainer is one of three avenues by which the Department of Homeland Security fulfills its “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.”

The “Form I-247D, Immigration Detainer – Request for Voluntary Action,” asks that the incarcerating agency maintain custody of a person for up to 48 hours after he or she would have been released to allow the Department of Homeland Security to assume custody.

“They all indicate it is a request,” Haas said.

While Trump’s order said sanctuary jurisdictions are those that do not comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373, Dean and Haas said there is no actual definition for what constitutes sanctuary cities and counties.

“It’s sort of a made-up term that does not have any legal meaning, per se,” Haas said.

Dean said Jefferson County commissioners Monday will consider passing a “Human Right Proclamation” that includes the pledge to not withhold services based on “national origin, immigration or citizenship status.”

Paul Gottlieb is a Senior Staff Writer with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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