West Palm Beach could declare itself a “Welcoming City” for immigrants.
City commissioners on Monday are scheduled to discuss a resolution stating it treats immigrants fairly. City police will only investigate someone’s citizenship status if required by law, warrant or court order. City government will not discriminate against immigrants when it comes to providing city services.
Not good enough, say left-wing groups Women’s March West Palm Beach and South Florida Activism. On Monday both groups, and others, plan to gather outside city hall to protest the resolution since it has no legal binding.
Both groups’ Facebook pages state, “we must be adamant in our insistence that a resolution is NOT ENOUGH, and that we will not be quieted, nor will we forget their unwillingness to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
“Part of the issue is there is not enough ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents to do what the president wants us to do,” Mayor Jeri Muio told commissioners and city staff at a Wednesday meeting to review Monday’s commission meeting agenda. ICE might “come to municipalities and say, ‘You’re going to enforce this.’ But we cannot,” she said. President Donald Trump in January signed an executive order that aims to cut off federal grants to cities that do not comply with ICE requests.
When someone is arrested by city police, they are booked into Palm Beach County jail, which is run by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. If ICE asks PBSO, without a court order or warrant, to hold a detainee longer than local police need to, PBSO does not have to honor that request.
Even though police policy is in line with an ordinance demanded by protesters, it’s no guarantee, said Star Fae, the Lake Worth activist who founded South Florida Activism.
“Without the ordinance, should the commission have a change of heart, or should the police force act outside of the commission and communities interests, there would be nothing stopping them from doing so on a legal level,” Fae wrote in an email.
The phrase “Welcoming City” is effectively no different from “sanctuary city,” Mayor Jeri Muio said at the Wednesday meeting. She also mentioned the idea of a city identification card, called “community ID.” Immigrants with no state ID could present the community ID card to police when questioned, instead of their green card.
The city commission meeting and protests are both scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at city hall, 401 Clematis Street.