Portland Not a Sanctuary City
by Tony Zeli
On November 14th, the Bangor Daily News’ Jake Bleiberg penned this sensational headline, “Portland would likely cooperate with Trump’s mass deportation plan.” The headline caused a stir on social media as residents prepared for the City to help Donald Trump deport millions of immigrants.
The term sanctuary city is used by media pundits and elected officials. It generally describes cities across the country that have used local ordinances to protect immigrants from Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
In September 2015 Governor LePage claimed Portland was a sanctuary city. Per Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and Police Chief Michael Sauschuck this is not true. Also, not true is that the City would go out of its way to work with President-elect Trump to mass deport immigrant residents.
In a statement to media, Mayor Ethan Strimling reassured residents. He said that the City “will not participate in any witch hunts that intimidate our residents.”
Chapter 2 of the Portland City Code states that City employees – that includes police officers – will not ask about the immigration status of individuals. They will, however, if they are ordered to do so by a court or law. Specifically, the ordinance states that law enforcement personnel are to cooperate with federal officials. This is contrary to what a sanctuary city would do.
Portland Won’t Deport Millions
At the District 2 Annual Meeting Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck explained. To be specific, sanctuary cities ban either local police, prosecutors or jails from talking to Federal ICE agents. There is no such ban in Portland, Maine. The Chief says that officers would work with ICE as required, but they do not actively ask about immigration status.
Chief Sauschuck went on to say, “I do think we are a compassionate city, a welcoming city, but we are not in fact a sanctuary city.”
Mayor Strimling took the opportunity at the annual district meeting to respond as well.
He put it clearly, “We are not going to work with Donald Trump to deport millions of people.”
Tony is publisher and editor of the West End News.