The D.C. Council has voted unanimously to limit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to enforce immigration law in the nation’s capital.
The council passed an emergency bill Tuesday to ensure that the city, primarily the Department of Corrections, doesn’t detain individuals for ICE solely based on an immigration law violation.
“D.C. is a proud city of immigrant communities and we want to make sure we’re protecting every single one of our neighbors,” said Councilmember Charles Allen of Ward 6, who chairs the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.
“We say we’re a sanctuary city and we want to make sure we mean it.”
Under the measure, if there is no criminal warrant against a person in D.C. police custody, the city may not notify ICE of the person’s release date and may not provide any space or equipment to ICE to search for an individual in custody.
Federal Immigration and Customs agents trying to detain individuals in D.C. custody would be denied access to D.C. detention facilities, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and St. Elizabeths Hospital.
The District would detain an individual for ICE if the individual is wanted on a criminal warrant.
“If ICE has a judicial warrant or judicial order then [the Department of Corrections] are able to cooperate and be able to detain somebody,” Allen said.
The bill also forbids the city from inquiring into the immigration status of a person in custody.
“After we learned that there have been some D.C. residents who have been turned over from the Department of Corrections to ICE, we wanted to make limitations around that to help protect residents and make sure we’re not complicit with the Trump administration when it comes to their activities against our immigrant neighbors,” Allen said.
The emergency bill is on its way to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s desk for her signature. Allen has already introduced permanent legislation which would require a public hearing.
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