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Sunday, September 24, 2023
Madison police and officials won’t change immigration policies under a newly signed executive order threatening federal funding cuts to sanctuary cities, Mayor Paul Soglin said Thursday.

Madison police and officials won’t change immigration policies under a newly signed executive order threatening federal funding cuts to sanctuary cities, Mayor Paul Soglin said Thursday.

Soglin says Madison won’t fold to federal funding threats

Despite federal funding threats, city officials and law enforcement will not target individuals based on immigration status, according to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

The move is in sync with a band of mayors across the country, who are vowing to denounce an executive order imposing immigration ultimatums on local governments signed by President Donald Trump yesterday.

“Nowhere in our agreements with the federal government—housing, transportation, health, economic development or public safety—does it state that as a recipient of federal funds, that we agreed to illegally or unconstitutionally detain individuals,” Soglin said. “We will vigorously contest any attempt by the Trump administration to deprive Madison of funding, especially when unconstitutionally coerced.”

Trump’s order, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” would withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. It refers to a “sanctuary jurisdiction” as a municipality that doesn’t comply with federal immigration officials—although the term is unofficial and it is unclear what actually constitutes a sanctuary city.

City Attorney Mike May said in a release Madison doesn’t fall under the executive order’s current interpretation of the term, but it could if the definition becomes more specific or if legislation changes.

Soglin said every city in the nation is now subject to yet-to-be-determined standards for local law enforcement. But regardless of status, he says, Madison will continue to operate consistently with a 2010 Common Council statement declaring the city will not use local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration rules.

The Madison Police Department will work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in cases of serious crimes or felonies, Soglin said, but notes local law enforcement isn’t a “tool” of the federal government and so will not “unconstitutionally” probe immigrant status solely for deportation purposes.

“The trust between our local police department and the people we serve is more important than our violating the constitution and improperly detaining individuals,” Soglin said. “If we stop someone for a traffic violation or a misdemeanor, we have no right to compromise that person’s freedom through detention without a lawful court order.”

MPD Chief Mike Koval, critical of what led to the executive order and of its effects, assured that local law enforcement will not be doing anything differently as a result. MPD would never shield any objectionable, criminal or predatory behavior, but that’s not what Trump’s order is about, according to Koval.

“We have so galvanized people into palpable fear and apprehension that it has now come to this,” Koval said. “The predicate for this, somehow or another, is that we have misdeeds and crime and criminality running rampant around us—that is not the case in our community.”

Koval, who takes questions from the community on a monthly radio program, said he was astounded by a call he received in a recent session. The caller told Koval he has five outstanding parking tickets he is trying to pay off, and asked if MPD and ICE would be coming to his door to deport him.

“Going to the open-endedness of these executive orders, we have now created turmoil that cuts across so many lines,” Koval said.

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