Trump Team Suspends ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Shaming Campaign

Cities and counties questioned the accuracy of the administration's weekly roundup of jurisdictions allegedly not cooperating with immigration authorities

Photo Illustration: R. A. Di Ieso
Apr 11, 2017 at 1:07 PM ET

The Trump administration has abruptly suspended its campaign to publicly shame so-called sanctuary cities — just three weeks into the controversial program.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman confirmed with Vocativ that the agency would temporarily halt the publication of a weekly report of cities and counties accused of not fully cooperating with federal immigration officials. The decision came after the accuracy of the reports came under question by a number of the jurisdictions that wound up on it.

“ICE remains committed to publishing the most accurate information available regarding declined detainers across the country and continues to analyze and refine its reporting methodologies,” Sarah Rodriguez, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement.

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Created by an executive order signed by President Trump, the report attempted to single out jurisdictions that allegedly declined some requests from ICE officials to hold undocumented immigrants identified by federal agents as targets for deportation. Immigration officials claimed that local law enforcement agencies that landed on ICE’s weekly list endangered public safety. But critics — including city officials, police chiefs, and sheriffs — argued that the publication aimed to pressure cities and counties into assisting the Trump administration with its aggressive immigration crackdown.

The first report, published on March 20, drew outrage from immigration advocates and also raised questions about the accuracy of its data. Multiple jurisdictions, including New York’s Nassau County, said they were erroneously placed on the list, prompting sheriffs around the country to complain and forcing ICE to issue a series of apologies. At the same time the report left off some of the nation’s most lenient immigrant sanctuaries, such as San Francisco, which left a number of experts perplexed.

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Other local law enforcement departments argued that they stood to violate the Constitution should they accept some of the detainer requests issued by ICE. Federal judges in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Illinois have ruled that counties could be held liable for holding an undocumented immigrant sought by ICE without a judicial warrant from the agency.

“The [report] has already sparked important conversations between ICE and law enforcement agencies across the nation,” Rodriguez, the ICE spokeswoman said. “The revised report will add to this discussion.”