2017-04-28 / Front Page

City mixed on ‘sanctuary city’ measure

By Wm. Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — After adopting a resolution back in February “expressing solidarity with Muslims and all those targeted for their ethnicity, race, or religion,” the South Portland City Council is split on an amended version that would strengthen that position.

Three days after the council approved the resolution, Councilor Eben Rose requested a workshop for proposed additions. Those edits would have declared that, “South Portland will not assist or cooperate with any raids or detentions or deportations of any immigrants or Muslims,” and that, “this includes the assistance of any law enforcement, or providing data to the federal government without warrant or subpoena where the purpose of such data is to enable such raids or detentions or deportations.”

Rose also hoped to add verbiage stating, “South Portland will not assist of cooperate with registration or surveillance programs of Muslims, or make any attempt to make our friends, neighbors, and loved ones the enemy.”

City Manager Scott Morelli asked Rose to meet with City Attorney Sally Daggett and Police Chief Ed Googins to parse the proposed language.

“Upon this review, staff met with Councilor Rose to discuss their concerns with the proposal and to convey that they would be unable to support the amendments as written,” Morelli wrote in a memo to the full council. “All were able to agree on modifications to the proposed language that would enable the police department to continue to do their job, to keep the city off any federal ‘sanctuary city’ listings, and to keep to the spirit and momentum that was on display at the Council’s Feb. 6 meeting.”

Among the substitutions to Rose’s original language, the proposals reviewed by the council Monday night declared that South Portland:

 “Commits to continue its non-biased policing/non-biased profiling policies and practices;

 “Commits to continue its practice of collaborating with federal, state and other local authorities to protect public safety;

 “Commits to not seeking delegated authority for federal immigration law enforcement under Section 287(g) of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act;

 “Commits to not using city resources to assist or cooperate with any surveillance program based solely on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or national origin;” and,

 “Commits to not using city resources to create a federal registry based solely on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Or, in other words, Googins said, to continue doing as it does already.

“This is an assertion of community policing that already takes place,” Rose said, amid concerns that getting labeled a “sanctuary city” by the Trump administration could cost South Portland more than $9 million in federal aid.

Mayor Patti Smith and Councilor Susan Henderson said they could support the new revised proposal “as a statement of community values.” However, Councilors Maxine Beecher and Linda Cohen said they feared that, even in its revised form, the declaration might invite unwanted federal scrutiny.

Councilor Claude Morgan, agreed, saying that while he supported the new language in general, it was unwise to “poke the bear” while doing noting other than restating existing police department policy.

Councilor Brad Fox was not at the meeting.

Although most of nearly 25 residents who spoke at the meeting were in favor of the new resolution, the new draft did not have enough support to move out of workshop to a formal council vote.

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